Aid ship scrambles out of Misrata

2011-05-04 22:38

Geneva - A ship scrambled out of the besieged Libyan port of Misrata on Wednesday carrying 800 migrants and civilian casualties during heavy shelling on the town, the International Organisation for Migration said.

The ship with limited capacity was forced to leave abruptly, pulling up the ramp to leave behind hundreds of Libyan civilians who also rushed to board in desperation to leave the embattled town, the IOM said in a statement.

"We did our best and took everyone we could in a very short time, including Libyan women and children whose relatives had been wounded," said IOM team leader Othman Belbeisi.

The IOM was hoping the chartered ship, which ferried 180 tons of aid supplies into Misrata earlier in the day, would be able to pick up about 1 000 foreign migrants still stranded there and 40 wounded civilians.

But the boarding was delayed after the migrants waiting in the port area were forced to flee the fighting, eventually leading to a final one hour rush before the Red Star sailed for Benghazi.

The vessel carried about 800 people, mainly migrants as well as 50 wounded civilians, doctors and a group of 20 journalists, the IOM said.

Agency staff in Geneva said they could clearly hear the sound of gunfire while they were in touch by satellite phone with their colleagues at the port during "heavy shelling".

A rebel spokesperson told AFP in Benghazi that Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi's forces killed five people on Wednesday when they shelled the strategic port.

Aid ship blocked

Rebel-held Misrata has been surrounded by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces for weeks with intense fighting for control, while Nato mine sweepers have been scouring the sea nearby.

The aid ship, a lifeline for the city with land access cut, had been blocked about 16 nautical miles (29.6km) offshore since Saturday, IOM spokesperson Jean-Philippe Chauzy said, after anti-ship mines were laid by Libyan government forces.

In a further development the United States on Wednesday called on Libya to stop attacking the port of Misrata and to allow international organisations to send in aid and evacuate civilians.

"We urge the (Muammar) Gaddafi regime to cease hostilities in Misrata port," said Mark Toner, a State Department spokesperson.

He also called on the regime "to allow the International Organization for Migration and other organisations to provide much needed relief and evacuation services to civilians caught up in the Libyan conflict."

Read more on:    iom  |  libya  |  libya protests  |  north africa  |  uprisings

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

/Oscar Pistorius

Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding

Learn some great skills that will help your riding on the road and on the track.


Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips on how to set your fitness goals
This all-terrain vehicle is badass!
The TRUTH about painkillers and exercise
WIN! Where were you when you last felt alive?

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


There is a strong social and romantic overtone that plays its way into your day. It may get stronger later in the day when more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.