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First approach. First assessment.


On March 13th, 2024, the team on the Ocean Viking came across a rubber boat with 25 people in distress. Among them, two were unconscious. They had spent a week at sea, with close to no food or water. Around 6o people slowly perished between their departure and the moment their boat was found. The two unconscious survivors were medically evacuated and one of them later passed away. 23 survivors were finally transshipped and brought ashore in Sicily to receive urgent medical care and start their recovery on land.

This time, the boat is not overloaded. 

On this type of rubber boat, we often see up to a hundred people crammed closely together. The tubes and structure are not damaged. Poor workmanship, but we’ve seen worse. In fact, the boat held together. The engine is not working though, sitting on the transom with the propeller in the air. You can see a few people. Such silence. But where are all the others? 

Did they fall overboard in the rush at the start, or later, in rough seas? Fainted, dazed by exhaustion and fuel fumes? No, it’s not that, not in such numbers. There are dozens of them missing. It’s something else. The absentees died on the boat. They died slowly of hunger and thirst. They died from drinking the sea water. It took a long time. They saw and felt themselves dying for days and nights. 

They sent out distress messages for help. They saw helicopters and boats that weren’t looking for them. They waved, screamed and cried. And they died one after the other. One in front of the other. There are no corpses in the wreck. The bodies of loved ones, now a burden to be thrown into the sea. Two men lying at the bottom of the boat are presumed dead. They are still breathing. On the stretchers, the survivors weigh nothing, they are so light! The weight of their souls and little more. 

We found them by chance, because we were there, Patrolling the high seas off the coast of Libya. By chance, they came within range of our binoculars and Radar. They had been drifting for a week, abandoned. Abandoned, despite all the laws requiring assistance for people in danger. Despite international maritime law requiring rescue at sea. 

There are 24 survivors who can testify. And us along with them. 

Thérèse, driver of rescue RHIBEasy 2”.