Late yesterday [March 6, 2023] evening, EMERGENCY’s Life Support ship received a report of a boat in distress in international waters off Libya. The ship’s captain immediately informed all relevant authorities and activated the rescue team.

“We received a report from Alarm Phone and alerted the relevant authorities of our intention to go and verify the potentially dangerous situation. The distressed vessel, made of rubber and about 12 meters long, could no longer sail because the engine had stopped working. It had serious structural problems and was taking on water. An extremely dangerous situation for navigation and for the 105 shipwrecked people. In addition, sea conditions were worsening,” says Emanuele Nannini, EMERGENCY’s Sar (Search and rescue) mission chief. “We immediately thought of the victims of the Crotone shipwreck. This was also a boat in a dangerous situation, where people were risking their lives because of the poor conditions they were in. We are here to rescue those facing one of the most dangerous migration routes in the world. Women, children, and men continue to be killed by the absence of legal and safe channels to reach Europe. It is a duty to bring relief.”

The rhibs (rigid-hulled inflatable boats) were lowered around 4 a.m. and the transfer of the 105 castaways to Life Support was completed around 7 a.m.

A total of 105 shipwrecked people were rescued. They consisted of 59 men, 17 women (including one in her seventh month of pregnancy), four accompanied children and 25 unaccompanied minors. Those rescued came from Nigeria, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Guinea Conakry, Sudan, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Chad, Eritrea, and Burkina Faso. The boat on which they were traveling had departed from Zwara, Libya, at 2 p.m. on March 6.

After completing rescue operations and informing the authorities, Life Support requested a POS where the shipwrecked people could be disembarked. A POS in Brindisi was assigned by the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Center); they are scheduled to arrive on Friday [March 10] morning.

“When the disembarkation of all rescued people was over, we made an initial assessment of the general health conditions of the shipwrecked people and they seem in good health,” explains Roberto Maccaroni, SAR health officer. “In the next few hours we will begin more in-depth examinations. Priority has been given to a woman who is pregnant at about the seventh month, and no signs of a risk pregnancy have emerged.”

The Life Support – which has 27 people on board including seafarers, medics, mediators and rescuers – is on its third mission in the central Mediterranean. It rescued 142 people in the first mission and 156 in the second.

Photos by Gabriele Micalizzi