Some 700 migrants rescued in Mediterranean, 23 found dead

Migrants rescued by "Save the Children" NGO crew approach the ship Vos Hestia in the Mediterranean sea off Libya coast, in this June 18, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 04 November 2017
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Some 700 migrants rescued in Mediterranean, 23 found dead

ROME: Rescuers pulled 700 boat migrants to safety in the Mediterranean and found 23 bodies during one operation on Friday, an Italian coast guard spokesman said, the second loss of multiple lives recorded in the area so far this week.
After around three years of mass arrivals, the number of migrants reaching Italy has fallen sharply since July, when Rome struck a deal with Libya to block what had become a busy route for people smugglers.
A Spanish ship deployed in the European Union’s Operation Sophia naval mission recovered the dead, along with 64 survivors, from a sinking rubber boat, the mission said on its Facebook page.
“A tough day in the Central Mediterranean Sea,” the Facebook post said, adding the rescues had started in the early morning.
Six rescue operations were carried out in total on Friday, the spokesman said, making it one of the busiest days for rescues in recent months. Seven people were found dead and 900 saved on Wednesday.
The Italian Coast Guard ship Diciotti was heading for the southern port of Reggio Calabria with 764 rescued migrants on board, the ANSA news agency said in a report confirmed by the coast guard spokesman.
Diciotti was also carrying eight dead bodies, ANSA said. It was not clear if they had been among those recovered by the Spanish ship.
Those rescued were originally from Sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, Libya, Bangladesh, Algeria, Egypt, Nepal, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, ANSA said.
In the Aegean Sea on Friday, three people drowned, six were known to be missing and scores of others were rescued while trying to reach Greece.


Rebel attack in Congo Ebola zone kills 18

Congolese police patrols in Kinshasa, Congo, in this May 17, 2017 file photo. (AP)
Updated 30 min 25 sec ago
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Rebel attack in Congo Ebola zone kills 18

  • The attack underscores the challenges the government and health organizations face in tackling Ebola in an area where years of instability has undermined locals’ confidence in the authorities

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo: At least 14 civilians and four soldiers were killed on Saturday in a six-hour attack by rebels on the town of Beni in eastern Congo, the army and local officials said, disrupting efforts to contain an Ebola epidemic in the area.
The latest outbreak of the deadly disease in Democratic Republic of Congo has been focused in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, which have been a tinder box of armed rebellion and ethnic killing since two civil wars in the late 1990s.
Militants believed to belong to the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan Islamist group active in eastern Congo, clashed with Congolese troops in Beni, a town of several hundred thousand people, local civil society leader Kizito Bin Hangi said by telephone.
“Beni is ungovernable this morning. Several protests have been declared in the town where the people express their anger with consternation,” he said.
In addition to the known fatalities, dozens of civilians were wounded as they fled the violence, which broke out in the early hours of Saturday evening and lasted until midnight, Bin Hangi added.
During a news conference in Beni on Sunday, a representative of the Congolese army said four soldiers had also been killed in the attack.
Spokesman Mak Hazukay confirmed the civilian death toll of 14, but said six civilians and four military personnel had been wounded — lower figures than estimated by the civil society leader.
The attack underscores the challenges the government and health organizations face in tackling Ebola in an area where years of instability has undermined locals’ confidence in the authorities.
Community unrest in the wake of the latest violence prompted the Health Ministry to suspend temporarily the field work it has been carrying out in Beni as part of its Ebola response.
“Many inhabitants of the town of Beni took to the streets this Sunday to protest against the growing insecurity in the zone. The field work of the response will resume once calm returns to the town,” the ministry said in its daily Ebola report.
The latest outbreak, which causes haemmorhagic fever, vomiting and diarrhea, is believed to have killed 99 people since July and infected another 48.