The Sea-Watch 3 in the Mediterranean Sea | Credit: Twitter @Sea-Watch International
The Sea-Watch 3 in the Mediterranean Sea | Credit: Twitter @Sea-Watch International

The German-run private rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3 has picked up around 120 migrants in three rescue operations in the central Mediterranean on Thursday and early Friday morning.

42 migrants were rescued from a boat in distress in the Maltese rescue zone at 4 am on Friday morning, Sea Watch said on Twitter. According to the NGO, the Maltese authorities had been alerted to the boat on Thursday afternoon but "refused to initiate a rescue." 

The migrants, among them many children, had contacted Alarmphone, the distress hotline for migrant boats in the Mediterranean, in the afternoon. Alarmphone publicly shared their GPS position on Twitter, adding: "We informed authorities of Malta and demand immediate rescue. Weather conditions are dangerous and night is coming. Don’t let them drown!"

The rescue of 42 people on Friday morning brings the total number of migrants on board the Sea-Watch 3 to around 120.

On Thursday, Sea-Watch 3 picked up 60 migrants from distress at sea around 24 nautical miles off the Libyan coast. Later, on Thursday evening, the NGO encountered another 17 migrants in distress. Sea Watch said that its reconnaissance aircraft Moonbird had further spotted "multiple distress cases" and that it had witnessed other boats which were intercepted by Libyan coast guard forces and returned to Libya.

The organization which launched its most recent search-and-rescue mission on December 30, said that relatively fair weather conditions as well as the deteriorating situation in Libya are currently causing more people to attempt the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea.

In early December, Sea-Watch announced it would be sailing under a German flag, due to "insufficient confidence" in the Netherlands as a flag state.


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