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Life Support Rescues 118 People in Two Operations

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Between 8 and 9 November, EMERGENCY’s search and rescue vessel Life Support carried out two separate operations, rescuing a total of 118 people. The first rescue of 77 people ended at 3:30 a.m., while the second rescue of 41 people ended around 8:30 a.m. Both boats in distress were in international waters of the Central Mediterranean, in the Maltese Search and Rescue (SAR) Zone. Among the rescued people were four children, all unaccompanied. They came from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt and Palestine.

“The adverse weather conditions made the rescues very complex. During the second rescue there were about three-metre waves,” explains Emanuele Nannini, Life Support Head of Mission. “Fortunately, everyone was safely brought on board. Now our cultural mediators, medical staff and logisticians are taking care of them. We have been assigned Brindisi as a Place of Safety, which is about 46 hours’ sailing from the place where we carried out the second rescue. In the coming days, we will have to contend with heavy seas due to further poor weather conditions.”

The first rescue operation involved a wooden boat around 10 metres carrying 77 people; it had nearly run out of fuel and had begun to take on water, partly due to the difficult weather and overloading. The second operation involved a very small fibreglass boat carrying 41 people. It had several cracks and with every wave, it creaked and took on more water; the people on board were constantly emptying the hull with buckets.

Of the 118 people rescued, none were wearing life jackets before the arrival of Life Support. According to our rescue team members, both boats were at risk of capsizing at any moment.

Both boats in distress departed from Benghazi, Libya. After four and three days of travel, respectively, water and food on board had almost run out. The first operation took place after Alarm Phone reported the condition and coordinates of the boat. The second distress was reported by the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) and several commercial vessels that had spotted the boat this morning at dawn. After obtaining authorisation from the relevant authorities, Life Support immediately undertook rescue operations. Once operations were completed, the Italian MRCC assigned Brindisi as the port of disembarkation.

Life Support has been conducting search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean since December 2022. This was the vessel’s fourteenth mission, with a total of 1,198 people rescued to date.