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Irish crew recovers 14 dead from migrant barge

Crew members of the LÉ Niamh have recovered the remains of 14 dead on board a barge packed with 500 migrants

Irish sailors have recovered 14 bodies from an overcrowded barge packed with 500 migrants on the Mediterranean.

Crew members of the Naval vessel the LÉ Niamh made the grim discovery during an operation to rescue the stranded migrants 80 kilometers north-west of Tripoli in Libya on Monday evening.

Captain David Barry yesterday said that the barge, which had once been a fishing boat, had been severely overcrowded.

Once the vessel had been boarded survivors told their rescuers that there had been "casualties", leading to a search of the boat.

The bodies of the 14 dead were found below the deck of the barge, which is thought to have left Tripoli in the early hours of Monday.

Capt Barry told RTÉ that the victims appeared to have died as a result of crush injuries and asphyxiation.

"It just shows you the actual disregard for any form of safety or care for these people by the people who are trafficking them across the Mediterranean," he added.

The remains of the 14 dead brought onto the LÉ Niamh were last night being transported to the port of Messina in Sicily. The Italian authorities will investigate the deaths.

Capt Barry described the Irish crew's work as "very high tempo and very demanding".

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