Father Mussie Zerai received a call from 270 migrants in distress in the Maltese SAR zone on 16.09.2013 at 15:30 PM providing him with the following coordinates: 34'35.758 N 013'10.069 E. Father Zerai immediately informed the Italian and Maltese authorities, and Malta declared it would take responsibility for coordinating the rescue.
The Maltese tanker Lovely Lady which had left the port of Skira early that morning heading towards the port of Trieste shifted course at 16 PM, probably alerted by Maltese or Italian authorities.
The Bux Sailor cargo ship flying the Liberian flag left Tripoli in the late afternoon of the 16.09.2013, heading towards the port of Gioia Tauro, in Calabria. Probably alerted by Maltese or Italian authorities, at 21.27 PM it shifted course, heading West. At 00.42 AM it arrived in the area where the migrants vessel was located.
However, neither of these ships rescued the migrants immediately. Father Zerai received a second call from the migrants early on the 17.09: "the 270 people spent the night in the vessel in the cold, and women who have recently given birth are in serious trouble. This morning at 9:30 AM I was contacted by the refugees on board the vessel, and they told me that their situation has worsened their boat was taking in water, that they have no more food and drinking water, and that they were risking their lives."
According to Father Zerai who spoke with AFM Malta, the rescue did not take place during the night because the tanker and cargo ships were too large to operate the rescue in difficult meteorological conditions. The Maltese AFM P52 patrol boat left Malta at 4 AM on the 17.09.2013 and arrived on location at 12.19 PM to assist with the rescue process.
The trajectories of the vessels in question is reconstituted based on automated vessel tracking data (AIS) as provided by Marinetraffic.com, for the 24 hours preceding this report.
Last update: 12:33 Oct 16, 2013