THE LIVES of six people onboard a boat adrift in the Mediterranean for nine days are at serious risk, activists warned today.
The relatives of the people on the boat first contacted Alarm Phone, an activist network which operates a hotline for refugees in distress at sea, about the case last Tuesday.
Alarm Phone alerted the authorities right away.
“The relatives told us that 12 people got into the boat in Annaba, Algeria, on October 9,” Alarm Phone activist Chiara Denaro told The Civil Fleet today.
“Two other boats that left that same day reached Sardinia last week.
“We alerted the Italian coastguards in Sardinia. They tried to find them several times but couldn’t.
“Yesterday, the families told us that six people on the boat have died of thirst and hunger.
“We don’t know where the survivors are but they have been at sea for several days now. We’ve alerted the coastguard on Sicily about the case too because they may have drifted near there now.”
Meanwhile, the Italian authorities have banned six civil rescue ships (Sea Watch 3, Sea Watch 4, Ocean Viking, Alan Kurdi, Mare Jonio and the Aita Mari) from returning to sea.
The Italian state has also grounded Moonbird, a reconnaissance plane operated by German refugee rescue organisation Sea Watch, and banned it from taking to the skies.
Ms Denaro said that the situation would be better if the civil rescue ships were free to do their work.
“Moonbird may have been able to locate them. The boat could be near Sicily but we don’t know anything because the coastguard won’t tell us or the families anything.
“We feel totally impotent. These people need rescuing.”