More than 300 attempting to reach Europe rescued in Mediterranean

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The Ocean Viking, the rescue ship of SOS Méditerranée, picked up 369 new migrants in the Mediterranean on Sunday night after a sixth rescue operation in a few days, the NGO said.

The ship now has 572 survivors on board, said SOS Mediterranean on its Twitter account.

The latest rescue involved a "large wooden boat" reported "in distress in the Libyan search and rescue region" late Sunday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the NGO told AFP.

The boat was spotted on radar and then visually around 10:00 pm, and rescue operations then lasted more than 5 hours. Among the 369 people rescued on board, 9 women, 1 infant, 2 children and 110 unaccompanied minors, according to SOS Méditerranée, from Egypt, Bangladesh and Eritrea.

On Sunday afternoon, the Ocean Viking had already come to the aid of 71 migrants in peril on an extremely overloaded wooden boat in the Maltese search and rescue zone. Its occupants were fleeing Libya, which they had left three days earlier and, without food or water on board, were exhausted at the time of the rescue.

On May 1, the Ocean Viking had landed 236 migrants rescued at sea in Sicily.

The ship then spent several weeks in dry dock in Naples for repairs before setting sail again from Marseille.

The United Nations recently criticized Libya and the European Union for reforming their search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, saying that current practices deprive migrants of their rights and dignity, if not take their lives.

Since the beginning of 2021, 866 migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

SOS Méditerranée claims to have rescued more than 30,000 people since February 2016, first with the Aquarius, then the Ocean Viking.

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