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Libyan warship to pick up migrants

A Libyan warship, the Al-Hani, is moving into the Malta Search and Rescue zone to pick up 200 migrants who have been drifting in a boat in rough seas since yesterday.

The boat is being assisted by the Italian motor tanker Antignano, which found the migrants 70 miles north of Benghazi in the Libyan zone yesterday evening.

An AFM spokesman yesterday denied Italian web media reports that Maltese patrol boats were involved in the operation, but said Malta Rescue Coordination Centre is being kept informed as a neighbouring SAR authority by their Italian counterparts. The spokesman stressed that the boat was pinpointed in the Libyan search and rescue region of responsibility and the operation was being coordinated by Italian authorities in conjunction with the Libyan authorities.

The alarm was raised by a satellite phone call from the boat to an official of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) late yesterday, and the boat's position was then pinpointed by satellite.

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