Italy detained NGO’s rescue ship, 135 migrants lost at sea

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Following the rescue of 56 migrants from distress at sea in international waters last Wednesday, the Italian authorities have detained the Sea-Watch 5 for 20 days. This was confirmed by the German NGO Sea-Watch.
Previously, a 17-year-old boy died on board after Italy, Malta, and Tunisia refused to evacuate him. 4 other people in critical condition were only brought to the Italian mainland after 9 hours. The remaining 51 people and the body of the boy were disembarked in Pozzallo, Sicily, last Friday following political and media pressure. Sea-Watch added that the Italian authorities had previously assigned Ravenna, over 1500 kilometers away, as the port of safety. Last Wednesday, during the rescue of 56 people from an overcrowded wooden boat, crew members discovered several people below deck, four of whom were unconscious. A 17-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest on board the Sea-Watch 5 and was initially resuscitated. In the afternoon, he was confirmed dead by the doctors on board. Before, the crew of the Sea-Watch urged the relevant authorities to evacuate the patient and three more rescued people medically. All coastal states were alerted, but neither Italy, Malta, nor Tunisia initiated an evacuation or took over the coordination. Sea-Watch said: “After landing the remaining 51 survivors, Italian authorities detained the Sea-Watch 5 on the evening of March 8. The reasons given by the authorities are false: Sea-Watch did not disobey the instructions of the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, but rather, the Libyan ship Fezzan repeatedly failed to respond to radio contact while bringing dozens of people from another distress case on board to tow them back to Libya forcibly. The Tunisian authorities repeatedly addressed by Sea-Watch did not speak English at first, then denied any responsibility for a medical evacuation and ordered us to contact Italy. The International Radio Medical Center, which reports to the Italian Ministry of Transport, told us to maintain our course north at full speed”. Oliver Kulikowski, Sea-Watch spokesperson said: “The detention of the Sea-Watch 5 is a purely political maneuver. Italy seems to be using any means to divert attention from its failure to provide assistance”. Meanwhile, 85 migrants are reported missing in the central Mediterranean. The NGO Alarm Phone confirmed it has lost contact with the group who escaped from Libya. The NGO added that the Libyan coastguard claimed “they could not find them.” Alarm Phone has requested an extensive search and rescue operation to a place of safety. This case follows another group of 50 migrants who were in distress in the Central Mediterranean. They had fled from Libya and said their engine had broken down amidst the bad weather. Alarm Phone confirmed that it has lost contact and the Libyan coastguards while were fast to intercept, so far have not found the migrants.


Foto: Ufficio stampa Sea Watch

Source: medNews