Update 6 | AFM rescues 87 migrants, one dies at Mater Dei • Ebola tests come back negative

Dinghy carrying 87 Sub-Saharan migrants rescued by Armed Forces of Malta • Migrants quarantined for Ebola • Eight migrants hospitalised, one passes away • Three ebola tests come back negative

One of 87 migrants rescued by AFM passes away • 20 others feared dead out at sea (Photo: Chris Mangion)
One of 87 migrants rescued by AFM passes away • 20 others feared dead out at sea (Photo: Chris Mangion)
Rescued migrants reaching out as bottles of water are thrown at them (Photo: Chris Mangion)
Rescued migrants reaching out as bottles of water are thrown at them (Photo: Chris Mangion)
A dinghy carrying 87 Sub-Saharan migrants was rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta.
A dinghy carrying 87 Sub-Saharan migrants was rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta.
Migrants screened for Ebola upon arrival • Video by Chris Mangion

A migrant passed away at Mater Dei Hospital this afternoon after having been rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta. The migrant was among a group of eight who were transferred to Mater Dei Hospital. Three of the migrants were in critical condition.

A spokesperson for the health ministry has also confirmed that ebola tests carried on three migrants at Mater Dei Hospital came back negative.

The third result was confirmed late in the evening.

A dinghy carrying 87 sub-Saharan migrants arrived at Haywharf this morning at around 10am after it was intercepted by the Armed Forces of Malta off the coast of Malta.

The migrants, who are claiming to be from Burkina Faso, Mali, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea, are all male and are believed to have departed from Libya before being intercepted off the east coast of Malta. According to information relayed by the migrants, the dinghy had originally been carrying around 100 people on board, but 20 are feared dead.  In a tweet, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the dead are said to have been thrown at sea during the crossing.

The migrants' dinghy being towed to shore by an AFM vessel.
The migrants' dinghy being towed to shore by an AFM vessel.
A decontamination tent has been set up as a precautionary measure.
A decontamination tent has been set up as a precautionary measure.

Addressing a press briefing this afternoon at Mater Dei Hospital, Charles Mallia Azzopardi, who heads the Ebola Response Unit, explained that even though the risk of Ebola is extremely low, all precautionary measures were taken.

Azzopardi explained that 84 migrants have been quarantined at Hal Far detention centre to be treated for Ebola. Even though none of the migrants are showing any symptoms of Ebola, the migrants will remain in quarantine for 21 days, the duration of Ebola’s incubation period.

An additional three migrants have been hospitalised where they were certified to be suffering in critical condition due to severe dehydration. They were also tested for Ebola.

Mallia Azzopardi explained that Ebola screening was carried out after one of the migrants declared that he is from Guinea. In addition, he explained that authorities could ignore claims by  the migrants that 20 others had perished. 

The migrants, who arrived this morning at around 10am after spending an unspecified amount of days crossing the Mediterranean Sea, appeared weak as they disembarked off the AFM vessel. Despite arriving at Haywharf at around 10am, safety precuatons meant that the disembarkation had to wait until 12:30pm.

For the first time since the deadly Ebola outbreak across West and Central Africa, the migrants were screened by health authorities. AFM personnel wore full Ebola protective suits while a decontamination tent was also set up. A spokeswoman for the home affairs ministry underlined that these were only precautionary measures, and that there was no cause for alarm.

Members of the media are also being kept away from the ordinary safety distance as a precaution.

Migrants were provided with blankets and water while on board the AFM vessel. 

An AFM vessel has towed the migrants' dinghy to shore, while additional vessels have been deployed in search for any bodies in the area.

AFM personnel remained in constant contact with the Italian military and the health authorities on safe distance procedure. 

The AFM had been monitoring the situation for the past hours and after ongoing communication with their Italian counterparts, it was decided that, due to their safety, the migrants should be brought to Malta.

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