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Louise Michel rescuers forced to attempt port entry without permission after three guests throw themselves overboard

Meanwhile, the Nadir saves the lives of 120 people in the central Mediterranean while Alarm Phone warns 100 others are in danger off the coast of Libya

RESCUERS were forced to try to enter an Italian port without permission this morning after some of the 48 people they rescued threw themselves overboard and tried to swim to shore on Saturday out of desperation.

Fortunately, as they were nearing the Italian island of Lampedusa, the authorities gave them the green light to come ashore.

The crew of the Louise Michel rescue ship found the 48 in an overcrowded wooden boat on Tuesday morning after they were alerted to a distress case by the activist-run distress hotline organisation Alarm Phone on Monday.

Since then, the crew made five calls to the Italian and other European maritime authorities for a safe port to disembark the rescued. All of them were ignored.

On Friday, a member of the Louise Michel’s crew told The Civil Fleet that tensions on deck were raising, as the 48 could see other refugee boats being rescued by the Italian coastguards, while they were being made to wait days off the coast of Lampedusa.

Following the disembarkation on the island this afternoon, a crew member told The Civil Fleet today that the situation on Saturday escalated dangerously.

“Unfortunately, our captain had to declare a state of necessity yesterday evening,” they said, “as we could no longer guarantee the safety of our guests and our crew.

“The psychological capacities of our already traumatised guests were so intensively overstretched with the wait for a safe port for the fifth day in a row, and witnessing three boats being rescued by Italian coastguard, that three people tried to jump and swim towards them.

“Several people were held back from attempting to do the same by other guests, which led to even more tension on board.

“We therefore decided to declare the state of necessity to enter port, even in the worst case without permission.

“But as we were approaching the harbour of Lampedusa, we finally got the official clearance to go in.

“It’s disgusting to see how far a situation for people need to escalate for them to get their basic human rights granted.”

Elsewhere, ResQship‘s human rights monitoring ship Nadir carried out four rescue operations in the Mediterranean in just 48 hours this weekend, saving the lives of 120 people in total since Friday.

Unlike the Louise Michel, the Italian coastguards responded to each of their rescues and brought them all to shore.

The 38 people they rescued during their second operation on Saturday had been at sea for three days in an overcrowded, unseaworthy wooden boat.

“Nadir found them in the afternoon after a fisherman had been with them for many hours but his distress calls had been ignored,” ResQship said this evening.

“The crew provided medical care to the passengers while emergency calls were sent to the relevant authorities.

“Two hours later, they were all picked up by the Italian coastguard – one of the pregnant women collapsed shortly after the evacuation and had to be taken to hospital.

“The European border regime is endangering human lives!”

Meanwhile, Alarm Phone alerted the authorities today of a boat off the coast of Libya carrying around 100 people.

“”[The] people are urgently asking for help and reporting critical medical conditions,” Alarm Phone said this morning.

“The authorities are alerted – a rescue operation is needed now!

“The people on board report that a woman is in labour. The rescue is still not forthcoming, although we alerted the authorities five hours ago.

“Also, [the European Border and Coastguard Agency] Frontex has flown over the area.

“Enough death and despair at sea! Rescue now!”


Top pic shows the Louise Michel’s guests waving at the crew as they are met by Italian officials [Pic: r42]

Published by Ben Cowles

Is a journalist and podcaster

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