Budapest/Geneva, 14 February 2022 – Search and rescue (SAR) ship Ocean Viking had an extremely intense weekend, with the crew having saved 247 people in five rescues in less than 48 hours. The ship is operated by European maritime search and rescue organisation SOS MEDITERRANEE in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Survivors are now being cared for onboard, having received food, dry clothes and blankets. The medical team provided first aid and psychosocial support, treating cases of mild hypothermia, fuel inhalation and fuel burns. Some people also show signs of torture.
Among the 247 survivors, there are 52 unaccompanied minors and a 5-month-old baby. The survivors represent 16 different nationalities, with most people coming from Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Ivory Coast.
The first rescue operation started on Saturday, 12 February, three days after Ocean Viking had left the port of Trapani, Sicily. An alert was sent for an overcrowded wooden boat in distress in the Maltese search and rescue region. The rescue team of SOS MEDITERRANEE found 93 people in an overcrowded wooden boat without lifejackets and brought them to safety to Ocean Viking.
The second rescue took place during the night of 12 February, again a wooden boat in distress, in the Libyan search and rescue region. 88 people were rescued. The boat was highly overcrowded, very unstable, the people had no lifejackets and had suffered from fuel inhalation.
The third rescue happened on Sunday morning, 13 February, a small wooden boat with 22 people were in distress in the Maltese search and rescue region. The boat was at high risk of taking in water.
The fourth rescue started soon after the third one. Ocean Viking received a VHF call from the aircraft of the NGO Pilotes Volontaires about a boat requiring urgent help and about to take water in. The rescue of 25 people was completed in one hour.
The fifth rescue took place a day later, on 14 February, in international waters inside the Libyan SAR region. 19 people were safely recovered from a fiberglass boat in distress among 1-meter waves.
Since IFRC entered in partnership with SOS MEDITERRANEE in August 2021, the Ocean Viking rescued 804 people in distress in the Mediterranean Sea.
This life-saving mission is an integral part of the Red Cross Red Crescent presence to protect and assist people in countries of origin, transit and destination across Africa, Middle East and Europe. As a neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian organization, IFRC’s global network provides critical humanitarian assistance to all persons in need, regardless of their legal status.
For more information, please contact:
In Budapest: Hannu-Pekka Laiho, [email protected], +358 40 5257126
In Budapest: Nora Peter, [email protected], +36 70 265 4020