The Norwegian rescue vessel Siem Pilot on Wednesday (May 25) came to the aid of more than 1,000 people off the coast of Libya.

The Siem Pilot has saved more than 19,000 refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean since June 2015. On Wednesday, the ship received 1,017 people from an Italian supply ship along the coast of Libya.

Norwegian ship rescues over 1,000 refugees (Video)

Kripos said that the ship had never before brought so many people on board. Image: Kripos/Scanpix

The refugees were picked up by the Italian ship after departing from the Libyan city of Sabratha in crowded rubber boats on Tuesday night. They were then transferred to the Norwegian ship Siem Pilot.

According to The National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos), there were people from over twenty nations, among them 107 children. The agency said Wednesday’s action was the ship’s largest ever rescue mission.

“The rubber boats were full of people and are not designed to go over the Mediterranean. They will sink if nobody comes and rescues them,” Siem Pilot force commander Pål Erik Teigen said for a local media.

The refugees were to be transported to Italy, where local authorities will decide if they can seek asylum or be sent back to their home countries, Dagbladet reported.

SIEM PILOT - IMO 9510307

Offshore Tug/Supply Ship Siem Pilot - Image: Stefano Oberti

Nearly 40,000 people have been rescued at sea and brought to Italy since the start of the year, according to data released by the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) earlier this week. Some 5,600 people were rescued from the Mediterranean on Monday and Tuesday alone.

In total, Siem Pilot rescued 19,209 people since last June, Kripos wrote on Twitter.

The video below shows hundreds of migrants in the water swimming away from the capsized boat as Italian sailors throw life jackets and inflatable dinghys into the water:

Source: The Local No