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Desperate migrants jump from stranded ship

September 6, 2020

Three people have jumped into the Mediterranean near Malta from a stranded tanker. They were later rescued by the ship's crew, who first picked them up a month ago and have since struggled to find a place to disembark.

Refugees on the Sea Watch 4 look at the Maersk Etienne
Migrants onboard the Sea-Watch 4 civil sea rescue ship observe the oil tanker Maersk EtienneImage: Getty Images/AFP/T. Lohnes

Three migrants, who have been stranded aboard a tanker for over a month, jumped into the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday in an apparent desperate bid to reach the shore.

The trio of would-be refugees, part of a group of 27 migrants, threw themselves overboard from the deck of the Etienne.

The chemical tanker, owned by Danish shipping giant Maersk, has been stuck 23 kilometers (17 miles) off the coast of Malta for more than a month.

Read more: UN urges rethink after 45 migrants drown off Libya

"The situation onboard Maersk Etienne escalated further this morning when three migrants jumped overboard," a company spokeswoman said on Sunday.

"The captain and crew were quick to implement recovery procedures and the three persons have now been rescued and brought back onboard the ship where they are being given due care," she said.

The ship rescued the migrants on August 4 at the request of Malta, after a fishing boat sank off Libya's coast.

No place to dock

Since then, the tanker has been refused the right to disembark by several countries.

The company has repeated its demand for a port and urgent humanitarian assistance, so that the passengers "are immediately given the attention and care that they need."

Neither the Maltese, Italian nor Libyan authorities would let them come ashore, the firm said.

Read more: Greece reports first coronavirus case in Moria migrant camp on Lesbos

Italy and Malta have said that other EU nations should do more to share the burden of helping those people rescued in the Mediterranean.

Failing to help those in distress at sea goes against maritime standards. Yet the latest standoff may dissuade other mercantile ships from responding to distress calls in the future, placing captains in an untenable position.

jf/mm (AP, AFP, Reuters)