49 asylum seekers rescued by Mare Jonio 42 miles off Libya

Francesco Malingri

Italian platform Mediterranea Saving Humans which operates Mare Jonio rescued 49 individuals who were on a damaged dinghy some 42 miles off the Libyan Coast during a monitoring mission in the Central Mediterranean on Monday. The vessel is sailing towards Lampedusa as this is the closest safe harbour to where the rescue was carried out.

In a statement the NGO said that the surveillance aircraft, Moonbird, which is operated by search and rescue NGO Sea-Watch, had alerted the vessel.

According to the NGO, the dinghy was already taking water when they arrived. On arrival they informed the Italian Coast Guard and carried out the rescue mission in accordance to the international maritime law. All 49 individuals out of which 12 are reportedly minors were rescued. The Libyan Coast Guard only arrived after the rescue mission was completed.

Mediterranea Saving Humans further explained that the people had been for almost two days at sea. The organisation stated that while it formally requested Italy to offer a safe harbour to the Italian flagged vessel, it has already started sailing towards Lampedusa as it is the closest one to where the rescue took place.