The Ocean Viking rescue ship, operated by the SOS Mediterranean organization, saved 128 migrants in three separate operations over the last weekend off the coast of Libya, according to a statement released by the organization which is based in Marseille, southern France.
The migrants were facing difficulties and were rescued after the ship received a report via a phone number used by migrants who face difficulties while crossing the Mediterranean Sea, in the Libyan search and rescue area. The ship’s team first rescued 33 people who were traveling in an “unseaworthy” boat, and none of them were equipped with a life jacket. The survivors suffered severe burns caused by the fuel and showed symptoms of poisoning, with one of them collapsing shortly after boarding the Ocean Viking.
Later, the Italian authorities asked the ship to disembark the survivors at the port of Ortona, located in the center of the country on the Adriatic coast, despite the organization’s dissatisfaction, which criticized this “far-fetched” option. The organization said in a statement that the migrants endured an additional 3 days of useless sailing to eventually reach a safe place, according to AFP.
The Ocean Viking has been involved in several rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, saving thousands of lives since its inception in 2016. The ship is equipped with a team of experienced professionals who are trained to handle emergencies and provide medical assistance to those in need.