95 risk drowning in Maltese waters – Alarm Phone

Updated 05:12 PM
SeaWatch

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A group of 95 people are at serious risk of drowning in the Maltese search-and-rescue zone, with some reportedly jumping into the sea as their boat filled up with water, NGO Alarm Phone is reporting.

In its latest update, the NGO said that the group reported that they have already lost one person and fear that more might die if they have to wait any longer.

When the group initially contacted Alarm Phone on Saturday night, which operates a hotline for people making the dangerous crossing in the central Mediterranean, they reported that their engine was not working and that water started entering the boat.

At around 2:45am on Sunday, the people said that they could not bail out the boat because it was too overcrowded. Alarm Phone said that a merchant vessel was just 20 nautical miles away and could be directed to rescue them, but the Armed Forces of Malta was not responding to calls.

Around an hour later, they received a call from a Maltese number, stating that someone was coming. But at around 8:30am, no assistance had been forthcoming, though the group repeatedly sent their GPS position. The merchant vessel could not be reached directly.

“The boat is drifting and we have given the authorities all the information we have. The people are in a very bad shape and scared. This suffering is unnecessary,” Alarm Phone later reported.

Subsequently, the NGO reported that the situation had become even more critical, with the people on board the boat reporting that some had started jumping in the water.

At around 4pm, the group reported seeing merchant vessels in the vicinity, but feared that they were not being seen. They were waving t-shirts to draw their attention.