The Ocean Viking, a rescue vessel operated by the NGO SOS Méditerranee, has been waiting for a safe port of landing since June 26. Over five days, it has conducted four consecutive rescues, and now there are 180 shipwrecked people on board (including two women).
The last operation took place on Tuesday night, 40 miles south of Lampedusa: 16 migrants were in peril on a fiberglass boat after days of sailing. In this case, the rescue operation took place under the coordination of the Italian authorities. On the same day, there had been another rescue during the late afternoon: 47 migrants on a boat in the Maltese search and rescue area, all severely dehydrated because they had been adrift for four or five days without water since their departure from Libya.
However, on Wednesday, the SOS Méditerranée vessel asked for the fifth time for a safe port, and there was once again no answer, either from Valletta or from Rome.
- is Bengalese and was rescued last Thursday with 66 other people on a wooden barge. He told his story to the volunteers: “I left my wife and two children to find work in Libya. I thought the war was over, but I found a dangerous country. The first time I tried to escape, the Libyan Coast Guard caught me, threw away my passport and imprisoned me. The only way to free myself was to pay.”
It took him a year to get out of that hell. On the bridge of the Ocean Viking, a “hair salon” was organized thanks to two professional hairdressers who were among the survivors, stuck in limbo between Italy and Malta. It is a way to lower the tension: some have been at sea for eight days, an unsustainable situation.
Departures are multiplying, but the European authorities are not starting rescue operations, so the shipwrecks are happening in silence.
On Wednesday, the NGO Sea Watch said: “Another nameless body was sighted on Tuesday by the Seabird plane in international waters off Libya. It is the second in two days. We have provided the coordinates to the authorities, asking for its recovery, as well as the investigation of the circumstances of yet another death.”
Then, in the evening, there was another sighting: “Once again our #Seabird has discovered three boats in distress in the Maltese search and rescue zone, south of #Lampedusa. The responsible authorities have been informed. @MaltaGov @Armed_Forces_MT – the rescue of these people is your duty!”
Meanwhile, the 43 shipwrecked people rescued on Monday by the ship Mare Jonio of Mediterranea Saving Humans are safe in Augusta, Sicily. The group includes a Syrian family with two children: “In our country, life is impossible,” they told us. “We lived in Damascus, we had to flee. Schools are a target for bombs or armed men who pass by on motorcycles and shoot at the windows. Fighting, kidnappings – we sold our house for a small sum and ran away. In Libya we found war once again, fierce fighting. There was only one open path: the sea. At night, the militiamen ordered us to board a small 5-meter fiberglass boat. They piled us up like animals and pushed us into the sea at gunpoint. They gave us a compass and said, ‘Go north.’ We spent two days at sea, the waves were high and the water was coming in. We cut up plastic bottles to empty the boat. That’s how we survived.”
There are also more and more autonomous arrivals on the Italian coast. On Wednesday, there were 11 landings in Lampedusa: 116 migrants have been rescued by the Finance Police and the Port Captain’s Office. The migrant hotspot of Contrada Imbriacola held 209 guests yesterday. On Thursday, 80 of them were to be transferred to Porto Empedocle.
On the island of Marettimo, in the Trapani area, nine Tunisians arrived on a rubber boat. This is the second landing in a week. Finally, 17 Algerians landed in Sardinia, including a father with his 5-year-old daughter. They were on a boat that landed in Sant’Antioco. In 24 hours, about 100 Algerians arrived on the Sardinian coast.
On the eastern border of Europe, Wednesday brought the news of a shipwreck: at least six victims have been confirmed, but the death toll is set to rise. The boat sank in Lake Van, Turkey, on Saturday night. Teams of divers are at work trying to find the wreck, which is believed to be at a depth of 120 meters. There were about 60 people on board, from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
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