Illustration Image

120 dead – or 130?


Warning – distressing content. The following text describes a fatal shipwreck. The accompanying image at the bottom of the text depicts a dead body.

Testimony by Alessandro, Search and Rescue team member on the Ocean Viking.

“For more than 24 hours, the Ocean Viking chased fates at sea, those of two boats in distress, far away from each other.

We found no trace of the first and can only hope that it has either returned to land or reached safety.

The second one we tried to reach through a storm, through a night with waves of six metres.

I have no trouble admitting that I spent a few hours in the bathroom, vomiting. The promethazine, the dimenhydrinate, and half of the last three years spent at sea were not enough. I was exhausted, dehydrated, I hardly managed to get back into bed, and all that while I was protected by a ship like a mighty lady of the sea that weighs thousands of tons.

Dry knocks on the keel, objects falling over in the cabins.

Outside, somewhere in those same waves, a dinghy carrying 120 people. Or 100, or 130. We will never know, because they are all dead.

We resumed our search at dawn, together with three merchant ships, without coordination or help from any States. If an airplane had crashed in the same area, the navies of half of Europe would have been there, but they were just migrants, soil for the Mediterranean cemetery, for whom it is pointless to run, and indeed we were left alone.

In the afternoon, a Frontex airplane spotted the wreck of the dinghy. As we approached it, it was floating in a sea of corpses. Literally. There was little left of the boat, and of the people, not even the names are left.

Powerless, we held a minute’s silence, to be echoed on land. Things must change, people must know.”

Body of a shipwrecked person