Sixty migrants were rescued by an Egyptian cargo ship in the Mediterranean sea just off the coast of Malta, Egypt’s Cabinet said on Tuesday.
The Wadi Al Karnak cargo vessel, which rescued the stranded migrants, was on its way to the French port of Dunkirk to pick up a wheat shipment to bring back to Egypt, the state-owned holding company operating the ship said.
Relatives and activists had fully lost contact with the vessel on Tuesday, having previously followed up on its occupants’ conditions via satellite phone.
At around 7pm on Saturday, the Wadi Al Karnak received a signal from the American Club, a protection and indemnity entity that monitors the seas as part of its protection services for clients, according to the Cabinet.
The club instructed the cargo ship to head 64 kilometres out of its way to reach the coast of Malta where it found the stranded immigrant vessel and towed it.
The Wadi Al Karnak reportedly received prior approval from the Maltese Centre for Research and Rescue to conduct the rescue.
By Monday, the Maltese government had not given the green light for a commercial ship to conduct the rescue, according to Alarm Phone, an international activist network that helps rescuers to reach distressed migrants at sea. The network had been in touch with Maltese authorities several times over the past few days about the stranded boat.
Food, water and medicine was given to the 60 migrants, who had been without supplies for days, Egypt’s Cabinet said.
The group comprised a mix of Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian immigrants who departed the Lebanese port city of Tripoli 10 days ago on their way to a European port.
There were 24 men, 12 women, 20 children and four infants onboard, according to Egypt’s Cabinet. Many were in a state of severe fatigue.
Relatives of the immigrants told AP that three children had died from dehydration on the vessel during its stranding.
The group was handed over to a Maltese rescue team on Monday, said the Cabinet.
As the ongoing economic crisis continues to impact Lebanon, the country that was once a country known for receiving refugees has become a popular departing point for people looking to reach Europe.