Italy prohibits German migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 from leaving harbor | News | DW | 09.07.2020
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Italy prohibits German migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 from leaving harbor

Italian authorities have banned the German migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 from setting sail, citing "several irregularities." Just days ago, the ship started its first mission since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Authorities in Italy have forbidden the German rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 from leaving the harbor where it is docked, the Italian Coast Guard and the Interior Ministry said late Wednesday. 

The vessel, docked in the Sicilian port of Porto Empedocle, had been under quarantine after a transfer of more than 200 rescued migrants to the Moby Zaza ferry.

The Coast Guard claimed that the ship was found to have "several irregularities of technical and operational nature" which were at risk of compromising the safety of the crew and the migrants who had been or could be rescued, news agency dpa reported. 

Read more: Aid ship declares emergency after 6 migrants attempt suicide

Sea Watch: Crew not informed of technical issues

A spokesman for Sea Watch told German news agency epd on Thursday that the so-called technical problems found on board the ship were a cover to stop the ship from operating.

"This is totally cynical," spokesman Ruber Neugebauer told epd.

Watch video 03:19

Europe: Sea rescue in the Mediterranean

The crew were not informed about which specific technical failures were uncovered during the inspection on Wednesday night, he said, adding that the organization has yet to have an accident in over five years of operations.

He also noted that the Sea-Watch 3 is the only ship operating in the Mediterranean at the moment, leaving many migrants and asylum-seekers vulnerable.

DW has reached out to Sea Watch for a comment and will update with a response.

Read more: Migrant rescue organization Sea-Watch: 'We shouldn't even exist'

Ship to remain under 'administrative seizure'

On June 6, Sea-Watch 3 had embarked on its first mission since the global coronavirus outbreak.

According to news agency dpa, Italian Coast Guard officials said the rescue vessel will remain under "administrative seizure" until the irregularities are checked and Germany would have to intervene to ensure the ship's compliance. 

The Sea-Watch 3 was also impounded by Italian prosecutors in May last year for breaching immigration rules despite government attempts to block the ship from reaching an Italian port.

kp,dvv/rs (dpa, KNA, epd)

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