Skip to main content

More than 400 people rescued from boat in distress in the Mediterranean

The latest overnight operation saw NGOs picking up migrants from a 'large wooden boat' which suffered from engine failure
The inside of the hull of a wooden boat, where many of the migrants were crammed into before being rescued by NGOs on 1 August 2021 (Flavio Gasperini / SOS Mediterranee)

More than 400 people were rescued overnight when they tried to cross the Mediterranean after their boat ran into trouble, three NGOs said on Sunday.

The NGOs - SOS Mediterranee, Sea-Watch and ResQship - said that their rescue ships, the Ocean Viking, Sea-Watch 3 and Nadir, had picked up the migrants after their "large wooden boat" had begun to take on water. 

"All night until the early morning, together with @seawatch_intl & @resqship_int, we were engaged in the critical rescue of ~400 people," SOS Mediterranee tweeted.

"Survivors are now receiving care on #OceanViking & #SeaWatch3.”

The German and French NGO ships Sea-Watch 3 and Ocean Viking rescued the migrants in Tunisian waters 68 km (42 miles) from the North African coast, near oil facilities and other ships.

Sea-Watch 3, which assumed command of the operation, took 141 of the survivors while Ocean Viking took the rest. The yacht Nadir, from the German NGO ResQ Ship, later gave support.

It was not clear if there were any deaths or injuries among the migrants who were in the wooden boat, which was crammed with migrants on deck and inside the hull.

The craft was taking in water and its engine was not working, a Reuters witness said.

More than 20 suspected dead after refugee ship sinks off coast of Tunisia
Read More »

Many of the migrants in this latest rescue were seen jumping off the boat and trying to swim to Sea-Watch 3, the witness added.

The migrants were mainly men from Morocco, Bangladesh, Egypt and Syria.

It was the fifth rescue operation by Ocean Viking since Saturday and the ship now has "449 survivors onboard in total", the NGO said. 

Migrant boat departures from Libya and Tunisia to Italy and other parts of Europe have increased in recent months as weather conditions have improved.

According to the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 1,146 people died in the first six months of this year as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. 

SOS Mediterranee said it has rescued more than 30,000 people since February 2016.