NATO, France deny failing to save Libya migrants

By REUTERS
May 9, 2011 17:41
1 minute read.

BRUSSELS - NATO on Monday denied a report that alliance units failed to help a drifting boat carrying African migrants from Libya, leading to the deaths of 62 people from thirst and hunger.

France also denied that its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle was involved in the incident reported in the Guardian.

The British newspaper said the boat carrying 72 people, including several women, children and political refugees, ran into trouble after leaving Tripoli for the Italian island of Lampedusa 180 miles (290 km) to the northwest on March 25.

It said that despite the alarm being raised with the Italian coastguard and the boat making contact with a military helicopter and a NATO warship, no rescue effort was attempted.

All but 10 of those who had been on board died after their vessel was left to drift in open waters for 16 days, it said.

NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said only one aircraft carrier was under NATO command during the period, the Italian ship Garibaldi, and that was operating 100 nautical miles (185.2 km) out to sea.

"Therefore any claims that a NATO aircraft carrier spotted then ignored the vessel in distress are wrong," she said.


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