By Mark Stone, Europe Correspondent
Eritreans attempting the crossing make the choice to flee poverty and repression under a dictatorship in the hope of a new life.
Early morning, 17 miles off the Libyan coast in international waters, and the crews with the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) hear a ping on their ship’s radar.
Over the subsequent few hours a familiar scenario unfolds.
In darkness and on rough Mediterranean waters, the organisation’s purpose-built vessel, the Topaz Responder, manoeuvres towards the radar ping.
With the help of floodlights, the rickety wooden boat is spotted. It is dangerously overcrowded; easily more than 300 men, women, and children, few wearing life jackets.
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