Over thirty people drowned, including seven children, after an overcrowded wooden boat with approximately 750 people on board listed causing hundreds of people to fall in the water on May 24 off the coast of Libya.
“As the distribution of life jackets was completed, a sudden movement of the desperate people on board destabilised the boat causing it to list heavily to one side, causing around 400 people into the water and leaving hundreds still trapped under lock and key in the hull below deck,” Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), an NGO specialized in search and rescue, said.
The MOAS personnel was joined by a Spanish SAR aircraft, an Italian Coast Guard vessel and two merchant ships, in pulling people from the water. Meanwhile, two additional wooden boats had arrived in the area, rapidly increasing the number of people in need of assistance to around 1,500, the NGO added.
According to MOAS, 33 people have died following the incident.
As informed, by late morning all survivors had been rescued from the water, and from the hold of the wooden boat after gaining access by forced entry to the hold. A total of 604 survivors were brought aboard the MOAS ship Phoenix with approximately 81 having been taken on board the tug boat Gagliardo.
“It has been another exhausting and unprecedented few days on the world’s deadliest border crossing. MOAS continues to call for the creation of the safe and legal alternatives this humanitarian crisis so desperately needs so that incidents like this can become a thing of the past,” the NGO said.