Rescue ship saves 500 migrants in Mediterranean

Ocean Viking saved hundreds near Lampedusa, NGO says

The migrant rescue ship Ocean Viking was alerted by the Italian emergency services and given the co-ordinates of vessels in distress. AFP
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The rescue ship Ocean Viking has saved more than 500 migrants adrift in the Mediterranean in operations over the past two days, SOS Mediterranee, the organisation that runs the vessel, said on Friday.

The rescues took place to the south-west of Lampedusa, in the waters between the Italian island and Tunisia, the organisation said.

“Already 11 rescues have been carried out over more than 42 hours and more than 500 people have been rescued,” SOS Mediterranee said.

They were helped on board the vessel by teams from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, it added.

“Rescue operations are still going on in the search-and-rescue zone between Tunisia and Lampedusa,” it said.

The Ocean Viking was on Thursday alerted by the Italian emergency services and given the co-ordinates of vessels in distress to the south-west of the island, the NGO said.

The central Mediterranean Sea is the most perilous maritime crossing in the world for migrants.

At least 1,848 people have died so far this year attempting the central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Italy and Malta, according to the UN's International Organisation for Migration.

That is significantly higher than the figure for the whole of 2022, which was 1,417.

In June, one sinking alone in the western Mediterranean cost at least 82 people their lives, one of the deadliest incidents involving migrants in the area.

In July, Italian authorities detained the Ocean Viking for 10 days at Civitavecchia port outside Rome due to questions over the vessel's safety standards before finally releasing it.

Updated: August 11, 2023, 7:44 PM