Sea-Watch rescues 47 asylum seekers, 100 reported dead

The rescue operations continued in the Mediterranean with some successful missions as survivors report that vaster numbers were lost at sea

Asylum seekers were rescued off a rubber boat in distress
Asylum seekers were rescued off a rubber boat in distress

The NGO's vessel Sea-Watch 3 as part of the #united4med alliance, which includes 2 other rescue NGOs, claimed to have saved many lives off the Libyan coast but survivors say that lives lost amount to twice that number.

"At least we tried," Sea-Watch International said on Twitter, adding that the Libyan Coast Guard could not be reached.

In another Tweet, the NGO said that according to three survivors rescued by the Italian Navy, the asylum seekers leaving Libyan shores amounted to 120 people, which meant that 117 people went missing or drowned.

“We’re incredibly glad we found them in time. With a European Union that neither wants to rescue nor cooperate, it is the few civilian rescuers doing their best in saving lives and defending human rights at sea," Kim Heaton-Heather, Head of Operations on Sea-Watch said.

The rescue took place after the NGO's reconnaissance aircraft Moonbird overheard communication about a distress case with a half-sunken boat and people in the water.

Sea-Watch claim that the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) refused to give them information about the case as they claimed that MRCC Tripoli was the one responsible.

“Had we not overheard this radio message, probably no one would have ever heard of this tragedy. When we arrived at the position and performed search patterns, we only found 2 life rafts, deployed earlier by an Italian aircraft. It shows once more that the European policy of looking away kills, and the so-called Libyan coastguard is neither willing nor able to carry out rescue operations. We need more rescue operations, not less, and we need a civilian eye that closely monitors the European Union and its allies," Sea-Watch said in a statement.

With Sea-Watch partners of the #united4med alliance, the Spanish Open Arms hindered from leaving port and the German Sea-Eye 2 struggling to find a harbor for crew change, the Sea-Watch 3 is currently the only civil rescue ship in the Mediterranean, solely accompanied by the reconnaissance aircraft Moonbird.