Nearly 500 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by two boats run by aid agencies were looking for safe ports in Malta and Italy, the groups said Monday.
The Ocean Viking, a rescue vessel run by SOS Mediterranee in partnership with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was carrying 407 people rescued in a total of five operations carried out over 72 hours.
Another 78 people were taken on board the Alan Kurdi, run by the Sea-Eye organisation based in Germany. They were rescued in two operations.
🔴BREAKING! #OceanViking has rescued 184 men, women & children from two rubber boats in distress tonight.
102 people were rescued 80 NM from #Libya & 82 in the Maltese SRR.
With five nighttime operations in less than 72 hours, the total of survivors now safely onboard is 407. pic.twitter.com/lDbhfHWiau
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) January 27, 2020
Sea-Eye tweeted Sunday that the Alan Kurdi was headed for Italy after Malta refused them a safe port.
“Ocean Viking has rescued 184 men, women and children in distress… on two inflatable rafts,” off the Libyan coast, MSF tweeted.
They pulled 82 of them out of the water in a zone normally covered by the Maltese authorities, they added.
“With five night-time operations carried out in less than 72 hours, that’s a total of 407 survivors who are now safely on board,” MSF added.
Our ship #ALANKURDI requested Malta for a safe port. The request was rejected.
We are now on our way to Italy.
Head of mission Johanna Pohl on the situation on board: pic.twitter.com/qsR2LiCDTH
— sea-eye (@seaeyeorg) January 26, 2020
“As we approached, it was clear the people were highly stressed & panicking,” MSF tweeted, quoting Catherine, one of the nurses on board the Ocean Viking.
“Having been at sea for 22 hours, many were suffering from hypothermia & dehydration. Others had been exposed to fuel, which can develop into burns on the skin,” she added.
MSF had refused an offer to land them at Libya as “it is not a safe place” and were looking for other destinations,” he added.
An internationally brokered truce between the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and rival eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar has already broken down.
Read more via France 24/AFP