Rescuers remove 394 migrants from dangerously overcrowded boat off Tunisia

ABOARD SEA-WATCH 3, Mediterranean, August 1 – (This story from August 1 is corrected to show that Ocean Viking is not French but managed by a European NGO, and that the rescue took place in international waters and not Tunisian in paragraph 2)

Two humanitarian rescue ships pulled 394 migrants from a dangerously overcrowded wooden boat in the Mediterranean on Sunday night in an operation lasting around six hours, a Reuters witness said.

Sea-Watch 3, a ship run by the German NGO Sea Watch, and Ocean Viking, run by the European charity SOS Méditerranée, rescued migrants in international waters off Tunisia 68 km (40 miles) from the North African coast, close to oil and other installations. ships.

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Sea-Watch 3, which took command of the operation, took 141 of the survivors while Ocean Viking took the rest. The yacht Nadir, from the German NGO ResQ Ship, subsequently provided support.

It was not clear whether there had been any deaths or injuries among the migrants who were in the wooden boat, which was teeming with migrants on the deck and inside the hull.

A RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) from the French NGO SOS Mediterranee, the Ocean Viking migrant rescue vessel, approaches a wooden boat overcrowded with migrants, during a joint rescue operation with the vessel of rescue of migrants from the German NGO Sea-Watch 3, in international waters off the coast of Tunisia, in the western Mediterranean, on August 1, 2021. REUTERS / Darrin Zammit Lupi

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The craft was taking on water and its engine was not running, the Reuters witness said.

Migrant boat departures from Libya and Tunisia to Italy and other parts of Europe have increased in recent months due to improving weather conditions.

According to the UN-affiliated International Organization for Migration, more than 1,100 people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East have perished this year in the Mediterranean.

Many migrants from the latest rescue were seen jumping from the boat and trying to swim to Sea-Watch 3, the Reuters witness said.

The migrants were mainly men from Morocco, Bangladesh, Egypt and Syria.

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Reporting by Darrin Zammit Lupi, written by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Mark Heinrich

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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