UPDATED at 08:44. See below for details of the ‘rescue’ operation.

A wooden boat carrying 90 migrants is presently within Maltese territorial waters. Reports from the location say the boat is in a precarious state with a real risk of toppling over. The passengers include at least one pregnant woman and some children.

Alarm Phone raised the alarm late last night.

The boat, is within 17 miles of the Italian search and rescue area but within Malta’s area of responsibility and, this website is informed, Malta is coordinating a ‘rescue’.

Reports from the area speak of three other ships in the area. Two of them are merchant ships – Marina and Pixis Epsilon – that are monitoring the barge. A third ship is getting close to the boat. Unconfirmed reports say the third boat approaching the migrants is headed towards Tripoli.

(The cover image with this story is not of the boat in question).

UPDATE (08:44)

The Marina and the Pixis Epsilon are staying clear of the migrants boat that is now taking in water. The third commercial boat that is heading towards the scene is called Carina and she does not fly under Malta’s flag.

The Carina was en route to Tripoli when it was ordered to change direction from 60 miles west to reach the migrants struggling at sea. This is an abnormal redirection in the circumstances.

Experts speaking to this website suggest that since the one ship of three involved in this operation not flying a Maltese flag has been redirected towards the scene raises the possibility that the Maltese authorities intend to push back the migrants towards Libya.