Fort Collins Journalist, Two Firefighters Help To Rescue Refugees In Mediterranean Sea

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<p>Courtesy Jason Pohl/The Coloradoan</p>
<p>Rescuers pull refugees from the Mediterranean Sea after their rubber boat capsized roughly 20 miles off the coast of Libya on Nov. 22, 2016. Overcrowded boats like this sink with some regularity, often with numerous fatalities.</p>
Photo: Refugees on crowded boat
A crowded rubber boat floats on the Mediterranean Sea. Personnel from relief agency Global DIRT watch from a distance after they outfitted everyone on board with life jackets.

More than 300,000 refugees have launched into the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, fleeing countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Iraq. While that number is down from 2015, fatalities are up: this is the deadliest year on record for refugees in the Mediterranean according to the United Nations, and Pope Francis has called the sea "a graveyard."

Photo:Houck and others refugee effort
Poudre Fire Authority firefighters Jim Houck, right, and Tom Pickles, left, discuss body recovery efforts on Nov. 17, 2016, when two men were found floating several miles off the coast of Libya.

Last month, a journalist from the Coloradoan newspaper and two Fort Collins firefighters were among a crew that pulled nearly a thousand refugees to safety. Reporter Jason Pohl embedded in the rescue operation run by Global Disaster Immediate Response Team, or DIRT. He joined Jim Houck and Tom Pickles, volunteers in the effort from the Poudre Fire Authority.

Read Jason Pohl's special report: Saving refugees at sea: Inside 24 hours of chaotic rescues

Pohl and Houck reflected on their experience with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel.

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