Wednesday, May 18

A 5-year-old girl dies in the rescue helicopter after spending 17 days in a boat

A five-year-old girl of sub-Saharan origin died tonight when she was evacuated by helicopter by the Air Force to the Canary Islands along with a man and a woman from a boat in which they had spent 17 days lost in the Atlantic, they have informed Efe the Police and 1-1-2.

The helicopter of the search and rescue service (SAR) that picked them up from the merchant ship that had rescued them, the Cape Taweelah, arrived at the Doctor Negrín University Hospital in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the night of this Tuesday, around 11:50 p.m., according to Efe witnessed.

The girl and the woman were already in very bad condition since they were assisted by the merchant and entered cardiorespiratory arrest during the flight, of almost 500 kilometers. The Army SAR nurses tried to revive the two, but they only succeeded with the adult woman.

The patera was found on Tuesday by a merchant en route at a point in the Atlantic located between Nouadhibou (Mauritania) and Dakhla (Sahara), two of the most frequent places of departure for boats and cayucos to the Canary Islands, although at the moment it is unknown whether it had left that area or was left adrift and was dragged for days towards that position by the current and the wind.

As soon as Cape Taweelah’s notice was received, Salvamento Marítimo urgently mobilized Guardamar Talía from the port of Arguineguín, which was scheduled to arrive at its position around midnight, after about ten now sailing at rescue speed.

However, the operation was aborted when the Talía had traveled about 160 kilometers, because the freighter reported that it had managed to lift 35 people alive (six children, 16 women and 13 adult men) to its deck, but also that they were on board the car was the corpse of a man.

The sailors of this ship from the Marshall Islands had their doubts about whether or not to undertake this maneuver, because there was rough seas and any wrong movement could cause the boat to crash into the hull of the merchant, 291 meters long.

In the end, they succeeded. However, they immediately informed Salvamento that a girl needed urgent evacuation, so the Air Force sent a SAR helicopter to meet her, from the Gando Base (Gran Canaria).

The aircraft landed with them at the Doctor Negrín Hospital shortly before midnight. The little girl was admitted as a corpse, the woman was taken to the intensive care unit in critical condition and the man was transferred to another hospital in the city, the Insular.

Until these two new deaths were confirmed, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) calculated the number of people who have lost their lives this first semester trying to reach the Canary Islands in boats or cayucos between 136 and 160, which is an average close to one deceased per day.