Bad weather endangering 58 Aquarius survivors

Twitter SOSMedFrance / Maud Veith

The 58 people rescued by the civil search and rescue non-governmental vessel Aquarius have not been transferred yet to the Armed Forces of Malta due to bad weather conditions, with waves reaching 2m in height. Aquarius is currently approximately 25 nautical miles off the coast of Malta in international waters. According to Aquarius, the Maltese Rescue Coordination Centre informed the vessel that the transfer may take two to three days given the weather conditions. contacted a government spokesperson on the estimated time of arrival of the 58 people who were rescued in two separate search and rescue operations carried out by Aquarius. In their reply, the Government spokesperson said that there was no estimated time of arrival due to the weather conditions. 

The MV Aquarius is a vessel chartered by SOS MEDITERRANEE and operated in partnership with Doctors Without Borders (MSF). In August, the MV Aquarius had docked in Malta and disembarked 141 people which it had rescued. Its registration from Gibraltar was withdrawn by 20 August. After spending days docked in Marseilles it was then registered with the Panamanian authorities and changed its name to Aquarius 2.

Following pressure from Italian authorities, the Panamanian authorities decided to withdraw the vessel’s registration. France refused to disembark those rescued, which will now be transferred in international waters, brought to Malta before proceeding to distribute the 58 people among four European Member States. Aquarius will head to Marseilles following the transfer to regulate its position.

READ: From life-saver to pirate – The case of the Aquarius