Politics

Malta allows 52 migrants stranded on cattle boat to disembark

Rome, Jul 8 (efe-epa).- Malta has allowed 52 migrants stranded on a cattle cargo ship since they were rescued from the Mediterranean Sea on Friday to disembark.

The group spent almost four days on the livestock vessel in dire conditions before being transferred to a Maltese military vessel on Tuesday night which took them to the mainland.

NGO Open Arms tweeted a video clip of the rescuees in lifejackets being transferred onto the search and rescue boat during the night.

“Malta agrees to the evacuation and subsequent disembarkation of the 52 people rescued by Talia whose situation was critical,” the tweet said in Spanish.

“Thanks to the perseverance and solid principles of the captain and his crew, they will set foot on a safe harbor.”

Alarm Phone, an emergency rescue number from boats in distress while trying to make the crossing to Europe, tweeted: “Finally, after days kept in inhumane conditions on a livestock carrier off Malta’s coast, the people who called us when in distress at sea are allowed to reach land in Europe.

The organization thanked Talia’s captain and crew for “their humanity, solidarity and endurance”.

The Lebanese cargo ship Talia had just delivered livestock to Libya and was heading to Spain when it received an emergency communication that a group of people needed rescuing from a sinking dinghy.

Captain Mohammad Shaaban changed course to go to their aid and brought them all on board.

After the rescue neither Italy nor Malta, the closest European countries, allowed the vessel to dock, forcing the rescuees to spend almost four days on the Talia.

Many were in need of medical attention and had to shelter in overcrowded, dirty animal pens due to bad weather with dwindling food and water supplies.

Open Arms issued an urgent plea for help on Tuesday warning that their condition was “critical” and that many were “wounded and malnourished”.

Footage posted on social media saw the migrants lying in cramped conditions on the filthy floor of the boat while Shaaban could be heard begging for help.

Maltese authorities allowed the merchant ship to enter its waters on Sunday to shelter from bad weather and the medical evacuation of two people from the ship but would not let the rest of the group to disembark.

It came after a young man rescued from the Mediterranean Sea died two days after disembarking in Pozzallo, Sicily.

Open Arms shared an image of him visibly emaciated being carried off a boat in the arms of a rescuer and another of him smiling on deck. EFE-EPA

gsm/rb

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