Malta's armed forces airlifted a 9 months pregnant Nigerian woman and her husband Wednesday from a charity-run ship carrying more than 80 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea.
A helicopter winched the couple off the Ocean Viking, a sea rescue ship operated by nonprofit groups SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, after the vessel requested a medical evacuation earlier in the day.
A midwife and a medical team examined the pregnant woman on the Ocean Viking and determined she had "developed a serious medical complication which could put her and the baby at risk," Doctors Without Borders Project Coordinator Erkinalp Kesikli said.
The Norwegian-flagged ship also appealed to Malta and Italy for a safe place of disembarkation for the 82 other migrants on board, but did not receive an immediate reply Wednesday.
Italy's previous government closed its ports to humanitarian rescue ships. It is not yet clear if the government that took office last week will continue the policy.
The crew on the Ocean Viking found 50 of the migrants in a rubber boat Sunday, including the woman due to give birth at any time. The ship took on another 34 migrants Monday from a sailboat operated by another humanitarian group.
The Ocean Viking received instructions Tuesday to bring the migrants to the port in Zawiyah, Libya. The crew refused, saying Libya is not a safe place to disembark.
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