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A Virtu Ferries Catamaran has just returned to Malta after carrying Libyan refugees from Tunisia back home to Misurata and Benghazi.

The ferry left Malta with a Maltese crew of 26 early on Tuesday morning for Sfax, where it picked up the 620 Libyans - 200 from Misurata and 420 from Benghazi. They were aged between 27 days and 80 years and 287 were injured.

The injured refugees had received treatment in Tunisia but required further treatment on board. 95 of the 620 were children.

There were also three corpses - two were taken to Misurata and one to Benghazi, for burial.

The ship's first stop after leaving Sfax was Misurata and then it went on to Benghazi, from where it left for the 10-hour return trip to Malta early this morning.

Foreign Minister Tonio Borg said that the Maltese crew included representatives from the Office of the Prime Minister, the Defence Division, health authorities, Mater Dei Hospital and the Civil Protection Department.

Dr Borg expressed pride in the Maltese crew, most of whom were volunteers, for taking part in this "dangerous mission".

It was noted that, as the boat was leaving Sfax, a family with five children went to board and a human chain had to be formed so that they could be helped get on the ship.

The assistance, which is being fudned through Malta's Overseas Development Aid Fund, was requested by the chairman of the Libya Rebels' Council Mahmoud Jibril.

In his letter of thanks to the Prime Minister, Mr Jibril promised that Libya would never forget this gesture by Malta.

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