From file: Ocean Viking crew rescue migrants at sea | Photo: Fabian Mondl/SOS Mediterranee
From file: Ocean Viking crew rescue migrants at sea | Photo: Fabian Mondl/SOS Mediterranee

Migrant rescue ship 'Ocean Viking' has saved another 78 migrants from distress in the Mediterranean Sea in two rescue operations. Geo Barents, meanwhile, has disembarked 65 migrants in Taranto, southern Italy.

After two additional rescue operations on Monday (July 4) and Sunday, the crew of the Ocean Viking NGO rescue vessel now has 306 migrants on board.

According to European NGO SOS Mediterranee, which operates the vessel, it was the 7th and 8th rescue in less than ten days.

The first of the two rescues took place late on Sunday, when the crew picked up 63 people from an "overcrowded wooden boat in distress" in Maltese waters, SOS Mediterranee tweeted on the same day. A day later, they rescued another 15 people who were "adrift for over 2 days on a small rubber boat."

Geo Barents disembarks survivors

On Saturday evening (July 2), all 65 passengers of the Geo Barents disembarked in the southern Italian port city of Taranto. The corpse of a woman who had died during a rescue last Monday (June 27) was also carried off the vessel, news agency epd reported.

International medical charity Doctors without Borders, which operates Geo Barents, had announced Friday evening (July 1) that the Italian Interior Ministry assigned Taranto for the vessel.

"The port is about 24h from our current location, which means another day of waiting at sea," MSF tweeted.

The disembarkation took place five days after the Ocean Viking crew rescued 71 migrants off Libya in the Central Mediterranean after their rubber dinghy collapsed and sank.

At least 30 migrants who went missing are believed to have perished, among them five women and eight children, according to survivors' accounts. Four rescued women lost a child and one of them lost two of her children, MSF said.

Deadly crossing

The central Mediterranean route from northern Africa to Europe is among the deadliest escape routes in the world. In early April, some 90 people are believed to have died in the Mediterranean.

The estimated death toll in the Central Mediterranean Sea currently stands at 805 for 2022. Last year, more than 1,500 people drowned there while trying to reach European shores.

A state-run sea rescue mission doesn't exist in the Mediterranean. Instead, NGO vessels like the Geo Barents and the Ocean Viking conduct search-and-rescue (SAR) missions to save migrants in distress.

with epd


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