The LÉ Samuel Beckett rescued 269 migrants and recovered three bodies during a search and rescue operation off the coast of Libya today.

In a statement, the Defence Forces said: "Following a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre, LÉ Samuel Beckett located and rescued a total of 269 migrants from two rubber vessels during a search and rescue operation conducted 30 nautical miles north west of Tripoli.

"During the course of the operation it became apparent that one of the rubber vessels was sinking and, tragically, three people have been declared dead. Their bodies are now on board the LÉ Samuel Beckett."

Following the operation, the LÉ Samuel Beckett was directed to rendezvous with an Italian Coast Guard vessel where a further 160 migrants plus 11 more bodies were transferred to the Irish vessel.

The 429 migrants on board the LÉ Samuel Beckett have received food, water and medical treatment where required. 

Migrants rescued Tripoli

Migrants rescued Tripoli

Minister with responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe has commended the captain and crew of LÉ Samuel Beckett for the rescue.

"I would like to extend my gratitude to the captain and crew of LÉ Samuel Beckett for their ongoing dedication to this humanitarian mission and to commend in particular their role today in challenging tragic circumstances," said Mr Kehoe.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost their lives, their families and the crew of LÉ Samuel Beckett for whom this has been a difficult operation."