05 Aug 15 28 Nov 16

Mediterranean: Latest capsized boat highlights urgent need for rescue capacity

The latest tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea, in which hundreds of people drowned after a boat carrying up to around 600 people capsized close to the Libyan shore, underscores a severe lack of adequate search and rescue operations in the area, says Médécins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The wooden boat, capsized, shortly before the MSF search and rescue vessel the Dignity I arrived at the scene. 

MSF initially received a call from Rome's Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre about the wooden boat in distress around 9 am this morning, but while on route was diverted to carry out a rescue of another vessel. This rescue, of 94 people, was completed around 12.30.

The Dignity I then received another call asking for it to continue on to assist the original vessel. As the Dignity I approached, an Irish Navy vessel that arrived first at the scene was already conducting rescue operations as the wooden boat had already capsized. Around 300 people are believed to have survived. 

 “The fact that we were first called to assist this boat and then shortly afterwards sent to another one highlights the severe lack of resources available for rescue operations.” Matías outlined.

Other rescue ships continued to arrive to the area to assist, and the Dignity I provided medical treatment to ten people, five were in such severe condition that they needed to be evacuated by helicopter.

The MSF rescue ships Bourbon Argos and MY Phoenix, operated by MOAS, were also deployed. 

Prior to today´s tragedy, 1941 people are already believed to have lost their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

MSF began its search and rescue operations in in May, and so far has rescued more than 10,000 people. 

Find out more about MSF's work in the Mediterranean