Italian authorities accused of abandoning 30 migrants to drown in the Mediterranean

Italian authorities accused of abandoning 30 migrants to drown in the Mediterranean

Image of migrants in a boat at sea. Credit: Twitter@seawatchcrew

At least 30 migrants are believed to have drowned after their boat capsised in the Mediterranean sea with an NGO accusing the Italian authorities of abandoning them.

The Italian authorities are today, Monday, March 13, being accused of allowing at least 30 migrants to drown after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean sea yesterday, Sunday 12. According to the NGO Sea-Watch, they contacted the Italians to inform them of the situation but the operator simply hung up on them.

A total of 47 people are thought to have departed from Libya bound for Italian shores. 17 of them were reportedly rescued by a merchant ship, while the fate of the remaining 30 is so far unconfirmed.

An audio clip posted on their Twitter profile appears to confirm this. It contains a dialogue between a lady from Sea-Watch and the operator, which ends with the operator simply thanking the caller, saying ‘Bye’, and the call ends.

According to a series of eight tweets from Sea-Watch, this is how the incident unfolded: “The distress at sea was known to the authorities and ended fatally. While the Italian government is obstructing civil sea rescue and its own coast guard is visibly overwhelmed, emergency calls go unanswered. #Italien watched 30 people drown!”.

Saturday morning, 10:32 am: 9 hours after @alarm_phone reported the first distress call, our airborne crew sighted the boat with 47 people on board. 2 minutes later #Seabird2 sends a mayday relay. The coordinates are given. A rescue is urgent”.

Immediately 2 emails are sent to the Italian sea rescue centre in #Rom . Since the boat is in the Libyan search and rescue zone, #Italien wants nothing to do with the rescue and refers to the so-called Libyan Coast Guard”.

We call the sea rescue control centre in #Libyen – the port authority in Benghazi cannot be reached. And it turns out: So far, neither Italy nor Libya has organized the urgently needed rescue of the 47 people. #Italien does not react to this information”.

At the same time, #Seabird2 reached the merchant ship Basilis L by radio near the distress area. It has already received instructions from #Italien to only listen to the so-called Libyan Coast Guard. We do not know whether a rescue will be initiated”.

“At 4:51 p.m. we reach someone again in Libya. We get confirmed: The patrol boats in Benghazi are not equipped for the weather conditions, Libya cannot rescue, will not rescue & also does not coordinate a rescue by the merchant vessel Basilis L”.

“At 17:02 we call #Rom again and ask who is now responsible for the rescue. We get no answer, the Italian sea rescue control centre hangs up. At the time, 47 people were in immediate mortal danger”.

No rescue is initiated overnight. In the early morning of March 12, the boat that all the relevant authorities knew about capsized while the merchant ship FROLAND rescued 17 people. 30 people remain missing. #Italien , #Europa – these are your dead”.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at