This photo posted on Twitter by the German NGO Sea-Watch shows the boat of migrants, on March 11, 2023, off the coast of Libya, whose rescue attempt the next day resulted in the disappearance of some thirty people. @SEAWATCH_INTL
The rescue operation of a migrant boat turned tragic off the coast of Libya on Sunday March 12. A shipwreck occurred while a cargo ship sailing in the area attempted to rescue them.
“During the rescue operations, the boat turned over in the middle of transferring the migrants: seventeen people were rescued, but around thirty others are missing”, announced the Italian coast guard.
This weekend, NGOs had reported that a boat carrying 47 people was drifting about a hundred kilometers from the Libyan coast. Rescue organization Alarm Phone, which runs a hotline for migrants in distress, was the first on Sunday to report that migrants had drowned. In a statement, the Coast Guard said that Alarm Phone alerted the Rome Relief Coordination Center on Saturday of the presence of this boat in distress, as well as the Maltese and Libyan authorities.
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Searches by boats and planes to find the missing
A merchant vessel heading for the migrant boat reported difficulty in carrying out a rescue due to bad weather. Meanwhile, the Libyan authorities, responsible for search and rescue efforts in this area, reported “a lack of availability of boats” and asked for help from Rome, which sent three other merchant ships to the area. towards the boat of the migrants, continues the press release.
“The migrant transfer operations began at first light” on Sunday when the Froland ship arrived on site, but the migrant boat capsized during the operation, according to the coast guard. After embarking seventeen migrants, the Froland headed for Malta to disembark two people in need of urgent medical attention. Cargo boats are still on site to try to find missing people, with the assistance of two planes from Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.
“The rescue operation took place outside the Italian search and rescue (SAR) area, registering the inactivity of the other national maritime and rescue coordination centers involved in the area,” the coast guard said. .
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Sea-Watch, a German NGO, tweeted on Saturday that its surveillance plane had spotted the migrant boat which was “dangerously overloaded and in frightening waves”. A little later, she reported on the deterioration of weather conditions and assured that “Tripoli claims not to be able to send a patrol”. Sunday morning, Alarm Phone indicated that it had lost contact with the boat.
Only 17 of the people in this picture were rescued by a merchant vessel, and 30 are missing. The case was known to… https://t.co/mSkIpwFnH8
— seawatch_intl (@Sea-Watch International)
This new tragedy occurs two weeks after the sinking, off Calabria (southern Italy), of a boat carrying some 180 people. It left 76 people dead and bodies continue to wash up on the shore every day. Italian justice has opened an investigation into this tragedy, the maritime authorities being suspected of not having reacted quickly enough to reports of the presence of an overloaded ship in the area. This shipwreck shocked Italy and sparked strong criticism of the far-right government of Giorgia Meloni elected on an anti-migrant line.
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According to the Italian Interior Ministry, 17,592 people have landed since January 1 in Italy, compared to 5,976 over the same period in 2022 and 5,995 in 2021, i.e. almost triple. The number of migrant arrivals via the Central Mediterranean route jumped 116% in January and February compared to 2022, according to Frontex.
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More than 1,300 migrants on board overloaded boats were rescued on Saturday by the Italian coast guard.
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