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THE Italian coastguard evacuated eight people this morning from an NGO refugee rescue ship whose calls for help had been ignored for four days.
The Alan Kurdi picked up 133 people, including 62 minors, from three boats in the central Mediterranean within 12 hours of each other on Saturday.
The crew’s repeated appeals to the Maltese, Italian and even Libyan coastguard authorities for a place to disembark the refugees have been ignored since the weekend.
This morning, however, the Italians agreed to evacuate a man, two women, four children and a baby from the ship on medical grounds.
“On day four, the responsibility of the authorities is still unclear!” Sea Eye, the German charity with operates the ship, posted on Twitter following the evacuation, adding that “125 people are still waiting for a European state to take over the co-ordination.”
The Alan Kurdi is now sailing towards the Italian island of Sicily.
Elsewhere, the fate of 86 people who attempted to flee Libya across the Mediterranean remains unknown.
The boat contacted activists from refugee distress hotline Alarm Phone in the early morning, but, 10 hours later, Alarm Phone said that there was still no rescue in sight.
“Only a [European Border and Coastguard Agency] Frontex plane watches them from above,” the NGO wrote on social media.
“The boat is deflating and water is entering. The people call for rescue. They are in grave danger! Don’t let them drown!”
The activists later posted: “We finally managed to talk to the so-called Libyan Coastguard, who we informed at 1.15am. They said they are aware of the case but no rescue has been sent.
“We are still in contact with the people in distress who are in panic with no water and food and little hope for rescue!”
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