On Sunday 3rd May 2020 NGO Alarm Phone said that they had alerted the Maltese and Italian authorities to launch a rescue immediately without delay as around 90 people were in distress on a wooden boat in Malta’s search and rescue area. Alarm Phone raised alarm about the migrants’ wooden boat early in the morning, saying that it was out of fuel and drifting with those on board, including a pregnant woman, desperate for rescue. Any delay in rescue, it said, would endanger their life.
Around 0730 hrs the 2003 built ATG flag general cargo ship MARINA was monitoring the situation in the SAR Area as instructed by RCC Malta.
Images of MARINA leaving Marsaxlokk Harbour back to 13th April, 2013.
Few minutes later the 2015 built MLT flag chemical oil/products tanker PYXIS EPSILON joined the area –
And another ship from the same company of MARINA, the 1997 built ATG flag ship KARINA joined in too –
Images of KARINA entering Valletta, Malta back to 25th January, 2008.
Around 0815 hrs according to Alarm Phone, contact was lost with the boat with critical situation especially for the elderly and one person who was unconscious. Few hours later a rescue operation started with the MARINA rescuing all immigrants three of whom are Bangladesh women and with others claiming to hail from Morocco, Chad, Libya and Sudan.
She was underway to Marsaxlokk Harbour for loading/discharging containers at the Malta Freeport from Tunisia when she was diverted by RCC Malta to search for and rescue the migrants.
According to UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency) with the IMO ( International Maritime Organization) states that the Master of a vessel has an obligation to render assistance to those in distress at sea without regard to their nationality, status or the circumstances in which they are found. This is a longstanding maritime tradition as well as
an obligation enshrined in international law.
Once the immigrants were embarked, the master asked RCC Malta for instructions on the disembarkation but no information was forthcoming. So the vessel started drifting slowly towards Lampedusa and asked the Port Authority for permission to disembark the immigrants. Lampedusa refused entry and advised the master that it is the Malta RCC which is responsible. MARINA has 13 crew members, who are not experienced in search and rescue. On Monday 4th May, 2020 the Master advised that situation onboard was serious with not enough food and water to get them past the next 24 hours and six of the migrants require urgent medical attention with crew members that are not trained to deal with an influx of frightened persons rescued at sea, in a very confined space with limited amenities. There is the added stress of the current COVID-19 pandemic with no means of testing the migrants and without sufficient or adequate PPE.
Lawyer Dr. Ann Fenech who is representing the owners stated that she had communicated with the commander of the armed forces and was awaiting a reply. The crew are getting both tired and restless. They are completely out of freshwater. The Italian authorities have given them some bottled water to drink but they are resorting to using the air conditioning water for washing and toilets.
Also on Wednesday 6th May it was reported that a fight was done aboard the vessel between immigrants which knives were used.
On Friday 8th May afternoon the vessel MARINA heaved up anchors and started drifting though on AIS she was noticed doing 13.1 knots which is not a drifting speed.
Later in the afternoon MARINA received instructions to proceed to Porto Empedocle to disembark the rescued immigrants and by 2240 hrs she was 11 nautical miles away doing 12.7 knots.
She entered Porto Empedocle at 2345 hrs
The ship wasn’t expected to berth and disembarkation of the immigrants was to be transferred to land with the patrol crafts of both Guardia Costiera and Guardia di Finanza. But at 0015 hrs on Saturday 9th May vessel was secured at Molo Levante.
It seems that the rescued immigrants will be taken to a ship that will arrive next week possibly a ferry so they can do the quarantine under the watchful eyes of the Croce Rosso Italiana (CRI) or Red Cross to anchor off the port limits.
She left Porto Empedocle on Saturday 9th May, 2020 at 0133 hrs.
Later in the morning she was proceeding to Malta for Marsaxlokk Harbour but vessel was instructed to anchor OPL Malta of which currently she’s in the process of dropping anchors.
Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com
Published – Saturday 9th May,2020