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Migrants wait for transportation from Benghazi, Libya. AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

Migrants left drifting in Mediterranean by Nato and European forces - report

A report in the Guardian today claims that dozens of migrants who were escaping Libyan violence were were at sea for 16 days despite calling for help.

SIXTY-ONE PEOPLE died while the boat they were fleeing the Libyan violence drifted on the Mediterranean Sea for over two weeks, despite contacting a Nato ship for help.

The Guardian reports today that a ship carrying 72 migrants was drifting on open water for 16 days and had made contact with a military helicopter and a Nato ship. The alarm was also allegedly raised by the Italian coast guard.

Just 11 people were still alive when the boat washed up on the Libyan shore at Zlitan, to the west of Misrata. One person died shortly afterwards and a second died while the survivors were detained by Gaddafi’s forces. They were held for four days after landing ashore.

A Nato spokesperson said there was no record of any distress calls being received from the boat.

The boat was heading for the Italian island of Lampedusa. Yesterday, Italian police and the coast guard rescued over 400 illegal migrants who were trying to reach Europe from Libya.

Thousands of migrant workers have been leaving Libya by crossing over its borders into neighbouring countries and from ports at Misrata, Benghazi and Tripoli.

Read the Guardian’s report on the deaths in full >

Read: Over 400 migrants fleeing Libyan unrest rescued off Italian coast >