Eight days after the first of six rescues in the central Mediterranean, Ocean Viking was ordered this evening to head to the commercial port of Augusta in eastern Sicily, where she should arrive tomorrow morning. The ship of the NGO Sos Mediterranée has on board 572 migrants recovered at sea in recent days, and among them many unaccompanied minors, women and even two disabled children, one of whom in a wheelchair.
Before receiving the port of destination from Italy, where migrants can dock and disembark, the NGO had to reiterate the request of the “Pos”, the safe harbor, five times, the last of which today, reiterating what had already been yesterday communicated both to Italy and to Malta (in whose Sar area some of the rescues took place) and that is that the situation on board was becoming increasingly difficult and that the provisions available would be finished tomorrow. Last night, one of the migrants had even thrown himself into the sea while the ship was sailing between Malta and the Pelagie Islands and an NGO rescue team had urgently intervened to recover it.
This morning it was the SAR coordinator of Sos Mediterranée on the ship, Luisa Albera, who launched yet another appeal to hurry: «The situation aboard the Ocean Viking is getting worse by the hour – she said -. There is no time to argue behind closed doors. A solution must be found immediately and a safe place for the 572 shipwrecked on board. Despite five Pos requests sent to the relevant maritime authorities, we are kept in the dark about everything. Keeping survivors waiting on the deck of our ship, exposed to the sun and the elements, is inhumane. It is beyond imagination. Inevitably, tension and fatigue are at their peak aboard the Ocean Viking ».
The Interior Ministry gave the green light for the landing in the late afternoon today, at the end of a difficult day once again, with Lampedusa which saw about 120 people arrive with eight different landings. Yesterday the arrivals of boats were 12, with almost 800 people arrived, some transferred to the hotspot of the island, others on one of the quarantine ships and still others transferred to Sicily by ferry.
But today was also the day on which the Coast Guard identified, to the west of the island and on a depth of about ninety meters, the wreck of the boat that was shipwrecked on the night of 30 June last, and the corpses of 9 migrants, just as the rescue operations by the Coast Guard and the Finance Police were about to begin. The overturning of the boat caused the death of 7 women, one of them pregnant, but also the rescue of another 46 people. The rescuers, however, knew that about ten people were missing and last Monday, on the initiative of the Public Prosecutor of Agrigento which opened an investigation, search operations were started with an underwater robot that this afternoon found the boat and also the nine corpses: «A body was found lying inside the hull – the Coast Guard said -, while another eight on the adjacent seabed. The search for any missing persons will continue in the coming days, as soon as the weather conditions allow it.