Fears were growing for the safety of some 400 migrants on Monday who were left adrift in the Mediterranean Sea after the captain abandoned the ship, leaving it at risk of capsizing, a volunteer organization said.
The ship was in the shared search and rescue zone of Malta and Italy, the Alarm Phone charity, which receives calls from boats carrying migrants in distress, said in a statement. cheep.
«A woman denounced the seriousness of the conditions on board. The captain has left and there is no one who can steer the boat,» he said.
«The 400 people can’t save themselves, the authorities must urgently send rescue!» Alarm Phone said in an aside cheep.
Several people required medical attention. sayingincluding a child, a pregnant woman and a person with a physical disability.
People on board were in a panic, Alarm Phone said, with the lower deck filling with water and some migrants even jumping into the water in fear of capsizing.
«They said they ran out of fuel and are taking out the incoming water with buckets,» he added.
Sea-Watch, a Berlin-based volunteer rescue organization, said the ship was «cruising very slowly» toward Italy.
«Due to the number of people on the boat and the current weather conditions, there is an urgent risk that the boat will capsize,» NBC News said in a statement Monday.
The ship was last located west of Malta, between Greece and Italy, at 2:30 am ET, Sea-Watch said, urging Maltese authorities to launch a rescue operation.
«However, instead, merchant ships are instructed to simply dispense gasoline so that the ship can sail to Italy on its own, which is terribly dangerous,» he said.
A merchant ship accompanied the migrant ship for a few hours overnight, supplying it with fuel, water and food, it added.
Maltese authorities did not respond to requests for comment.
Migrants fleeing poverty and conflict have increasingly risked their lives in recent years, undertaking the treacherous journey from North Africa to reach Europe in flimsy boats and often being smuggled.
Last week, 440 migrants were rescued off the coast of Malta after a complex 11-hour operation in stormy seas by the Geo Barents ship of the charity Doctors Without Borders.
Nearby, in Tunis, at least 24 migrants died when their overloaded boat sank last week.
In March alone, at least 175 migrants were reported dead or missing, according to the International Organization for Migration. Disappeared Migrants Project.