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NATO Denies Leaving Migrants To Die Off Libya Coast

Migrants stand in line as they wait in the besieged Libyan port of Misurata to be evacuated by an International Organization for Migration ship to Benghazi last month.
NATO has denied a report that one of its aircraft carriers left dozens of migrants to die in the Mediterranean Sea after they fled the conflict in Libya.

Britain's "The Guardian" newspaper reported that a boat carrying 72 migrants had left Tripoli on its way to Italy on March 25 but was left drifting for 16 days after a number of European and NATO military units apparently ignored pleas for help.

NATO deputy spokeswoman Carmen Romero said that alliance vessels were "fully aware" of their responsibilities under maritime law and helped rescue some 500 people near Tripoli who were later transferred to Italy in late March.

In a separate development, the UN refugee agency said today a ship carrying up to 600 migrants might have sunk off the Libyan coast last week.

Spokeswoman Laura Boldrini said the agency was trying to verify witnesses' reports that the vessel broke apart at sea on May 6.

No further details were immediately available.

compiled from agency reports