Industry Desk: A total of 440 migrants, including Bangladeshis, have been rescued from an overcrowded fishing boat in international waters off Malta, after a complex 11-hour operation in stormy seas, the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity said yesterday.
MSF said its Geo Barents vessel struggled with the overnight rescue due to the rough weather conditions, and initially could do little more than throw life jackets to the migrants, reports Reuters.
Alarm Phone, a charity that picks up distress calls from migrants’ vessels in the Mediterranean, warned two days ago that the boat was in difficulty.
“A total of 440 people, including 8 women and 30 children, are now safely aboard #GeoBarents and being cared for by the team,” MSF said on Twitter.
Italy is facing a surge in sea migration from North Africa, with more than 28,000 arrivals in the year to date, compared to around 6,800 in the same period of 2022.
The migrants rescued by MSF spent four days at sea, the last two without food or water, after setting off from eastern Libya, near Benghazi, on April 1, the charity’s spokesperson Flavia Pergola said.
One of them had fainted due to serious dehydration and was airlifted to Malta via helicopter, she said.
The migrants are from Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Somalia and Sri Lanka and are due to be taken to Italy.
On Monday Italy’s Coast Guard carried out another difficult rescue as it picked up 32 migrants stuck on a desert islet near Lampedusa island, via helicopter.
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