Catania, Sicily (AP) — The U.S. Navy has confirmed that one of its ships was involved in a rescue operation in the Mediterranean.
The U.S. Sixth Fleet, which is based in Naples, Italy, said in a brief statement to The Associated Press that the USNS Trentonon Tuesday “rendered assistance to mariners in distress that it encountered while conducting routine operations in the Mediterranean Sea.”
It said 40 people were rescued and are being given food, water and medical care on board the ship. The Navy statement didn’t say where the survivors would be taken but that “U.S. authorities are coordinating with our international partners to determine their ultimate disposition.”
The incident was first reported by German migrant aid group Sea-Watch, which said 41 people were rescued and 12 bodies recovered during the operation.
A senior official in Valencia says the Spanish port city expects three ships carrying 629 migrants rescued at sea to arrive by the end of the week.
Monica Oltra, the Valencia regional government’s vice president said Tuesday that the ships all fit in the city’s marina, where the migrants will be met by emergency workers, including health officials and psychologists.
Spain offered safe haven to migrants aboard the Aquarius rescue ship after Italy and Malta refused to take them in.
Oltra says the migrants include 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 children and as many as seven pregnant women. They are being transferred to ships operated by the Italian navy and coast guard, which are to accompany the aid ship to Valencia.
Oltra said officials expected some of the migrants to have gone through months of physical and emotional difficulties before reaching Spain.