The Italian coast guard and private sea rescuers have brought more than 140 refugees to safety in the Mediterranean. For at least ten people, however, the help came too late. Survivors reported two more deaths.
In the Mediterranean, the Italian coast guard says it has rescued 42 migrants near Malta from distress at sea. The people had been on their way to the EU from North Africa. At least eight were killed, authorities said. The bodies of three women and five men were found on board the ship. Survivors also reported that another man and a newborn fell into the sea.
A video recording of the operation shows the survivors in a small open fishing boat that was floating in the sea because of an apparently defective engine. They were soaked and dehydrated, and they were cold, the Ansa news agency reported. The fatalities were believed to have died of hypothermia.
Two dead on another ship
According to the news agency, the rescued said that they left the Tunisian port of Sfax on the night of last Saturday. The Italian Coast Guard said the Maltese authorities had asked them to take care of the distressed boat in the small island nation’s search and rescue area near the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.
According to the German aid organization Sea-Eye, more than 100 migrants in distress at sea in the central Mediterranean were taken from boats on board the ship “Sea-Eye 4”. Two people were found dead. As the Regensburg aid organization announced, the two had already died before the rescue ship arrived. Among them is the mother of a baby who is now being cared for together with the father on board the ship.
Assigned port far away
The ship is now on its way to the Italian port of Pesaro, it said. The port assigned by the Italian authorities is around five days away. A request for a closer port remained unanswered by the authorities.
According to the information, a civilian reconnaissance aircraft from the Sea Watch organization discovered and reported the first of the two distress cases. Although the “Sea-Eye 4” set off immediately, the ship was only there six hours later. The two bodies were discovered there.
Many of the survivors should have been treated in the shipboard hospital. One person was in a life-threatening condition and was evacuated by the Maltese authorities using a rescue helicopter.
The Italian Interior Ministry has recorded nearly 5,000 boat migrants so far this year. By the beginning of February, the number was around 3,000 in the previous year.