A pregnant woman and at least 22 others died immigrants They went missing after their small rubber boat sank in the Mediterranean, according to officials.
Seventy-one survivors were rescued Monday as they struggled to survive in the waters off the coasts of Italy and Malta, according to the international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders.
“What we faced yesterday was our worst nightmare,” Riccardo Gatti, the group’s search and rescue team leader, said in a statement. “When we approached the boat in distress and were able to see it with our binoculars, we realized the complexity of this rescue operation. The boat was sinking and dozens of people were trapped, while many were already in the water.”
Rescue teams tried to revive the pregnant woman, but they were unsuccessful. Three other migrants, including a 4-month-old, needed emergency care. MSF said the girl and her mother were later transferred to Malta.
Two women told lifeguards they had lost their children at sea, while another woman said her younger brother had met the same fate. Survivors also said that up to 12 other people may be missing, according to the group.
“The survivors are exhausted,” said Stephanie Hofstetter, medical team leader aboard the search and rescue ship Geo Barents. “Many have swallowed large amounts of seawater and many have experienced hypothermia after spending long hours in the water.”
MSF said at least 10 migrants sustained moderate to severe fuel burns and required additional treatment.
The organization said the incident was a “fatal consequence of the growing inaction” and disengagement of European countries, including Italy and Malta, regarding migrants in the Mediterranean.
Tragedies at sea still claim the lives of thousands, and these people are lost on Europe’s doorstep in absolute silence and indifference on the part of [European Union] He says, “Doctors Without Borders inspects rescuer Juan Matías Gil in a statement.
Some 721 migrants missing in the Mediterranean have been counted this year alone, according to Doctors Without Borders, which said it remains the “bloodiest border” worldwide. A total of 24,184 missing migrants have been registered there since 2014.
A man from Cameroon said he was at sea for 19 hours before he was rescued.
“All these hours,” he said, “I saw a lot of people drowning.” “I’m glad I was saved but it comes with a lot of tears.”
Pictures Posted on Twitter Dozens of migrants are shown struggling to survive “extremely shocked,” according to Doctors Without Borders.
The Geo Barents was headed to Italy after the dramatic rescue, and MSF is working with the Maltese and Italian authorities to find a “safe place” for the migrants, the group said on Tuesday.