Following six rescue operations in the Maltese and Libyan search and rescue regions since last Thursday (July 1st), the Ocean Viking is caring for 572 survivors, including 183 minors, who urgently need to disembark in a Place of Safety
Amid the absence of maritime coordination, SOS MEDITERRANEE calls on the EU to urgently coordinate for 572 survivors to disembark in a Place of Safety
In just over 72 hours, the Ocean Viking -–a rescue ship chartered by civil maritime and humanitarian organisation SOS MEDITERRANEE- has rescued 572 people from six boats in distress in the central Mediterranean, with a continued absence of coordination and information-sharing by maritime authorities. The SOS MEDITERRANEE team onboard also found five empty wooden boats that were intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard in the Maltese search and rescue region.
“What we have witnessed at sea these past days is harrowing,” says Luisa Albera, search and rescue coordinator for SOS MEDITERRANEE onboard the Ocean Viking. “Not only did we happen to rescue hundreds of people -who took the risk of dying at sea rather than staying in Libya- without any coordination by maritime authorities, but we also witnessed remains of other boats which were intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard, even as far as in the Maltese Search and Rescue Region.
All those intercepted are being forcibly and unlawfully returned to Libya, which cannot be considered a Place of Safety according to maritime law. We are calling upon the EU to now at least coordinate for the disembarkation of 572 survivors, currently aboard our ship, in a Place of Safety”.
Largest rescue by Ocean Viking: hundreds of people crammed on one wooden boat.
In the night between Sunday and Monday, in the pitch black and after four hours of search, the SOS MEDITERRANEE rescue team found a wooden boat previously spotted by Pilot’s Volontaires’ Colibri 2 aircraft. 369 men, women and children were crammed on a large wooden boat at risk of capsizing. Such large unseaworthy wooden boats launched from the coast of Libya had not been encountered by our teams in several years.
183 minors, including children with disabilities, among survivors.
On Sunday night, a woman had to be carried on a stretcher to be evacuated. In a rescue operation that led to the rescue of 71 people from another overcrowded wooden boat earlier on Sunday, not one but four persons had to be carried on a stretcher from their dinghy onto the Ocean Viking. These past days, the SOS MEDITERRANEE medical team onboard Ocean Viking treated cases of fuel burns, sunburns, dehydration and extreme exhaustion due to such dire journeys at sea. Some survivors reported having spent up to three days in the open sea before being rescued. Furthermore, two survivors, both parts of the 183 minors onboard are with disabilities. One of them, partially paralysed, was found on board a wooden boat along with his wheelchair.