Monday, July 4

The Ocean Viking ship rescues 65 migrants in the Central Mediterranean

The rescue ship Ocean Viking, of the humanitarian organization SOS Méditerranée and the only one currently operating in the Central Mediterranean, has carried out a new rescue operation in the last few hours and has a total of 65 migrants on board.

The NGO “has rescued 21 people in international waters off Libya, including 4 unaccompanied minors. They were in a fiberglass boat filled with water and gasoline. They fled Zuara last night. There are now 65 survivors at OceanViking,” he wrote. in social networks.

“Previously, our crew had detected 2 empty ships in the SAR area of ​​Libya,” he added, explaining that the Seabird reconnaissance plane, from the NGO Sea-Watch International, confirmed that “one of them had been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard. “.

In the first rescue of the Ocean Viking, carried out last Friday, SOS Méditerranée picked up 44 people who were traveling in two wooden boats that had been adrift for several days, and a Libyan patrol boat approached them that “complicated the operation”.

The Agrigento (Sicily, southern Italy) prosecutor’s office opened an investigation this Saturday into the attack perpetrated last Wednesday by a Libyan coast guard ship, from which a boat with migrants in the search and rescue area of Malt.

The opening of the file for a possible crime of attempted murder occurred after the brief presented by the NGO Sea-Watch International, which on Thursday alerted on social networks that members of the organization who were traveling in their Seabird plane had seen and recorded the attack.

In the video shared by the NGO, it is observed how the Libyan coast guard boat fires towards the boat and throws objects at the people on board, while dangerously approaching the boat, turning only seconds before contacting it. .

The Ocean Viking, which left the French port of Marseille a week ago, is the only civilian rescue ship currently present in the Mediterranean, waiting for the Open Arms, of the homonymous Spanish organization, to join the area in the next few hours. after more than two and a half months blocked in port.

The Italian authorities keep five other humanitarian vessels blocked for alleged irregularities: the Sea Eye 4, the Alan Kurdi and the Sea Watch 3 and 4, which were added yesterday by the Geo Barents, from Doctors Without Borders.

In the first six months of the year, more than 720 people died at sea and some 15,000 were intercepted by the Libyan coastguard and illegally returned to Libya, an unsafe port where migrants are subjected to torture and even rape, according to reports. Rescue NGO.