La Repubblica – Yesterday evening, at 10.00 p.m., the coast guard was faced with a difficult rescue operation after they received a distress call via satellite phone from a sinking vessel. On board were 55 people; all managed to reach the shore.
This terrible event happened yesterday evening in Marettimo, one of the islands of the Trapani archipelago. The migrants’ boat had sunk under still unclear circumstances. The 55 people on board managed to reach the rocky, very inaccessible shore but all they could do to escape drowning was cling to rocks along the shoreline. Among the shipwrecked were also women and children.
Access to the site of the accident is very difficult, both from the air and by land. This made the rescue operation by the Trapani coast guard very challenging. The whole rescue operation lasted all through the night and into the next morning. All 55 refugees were saved. Among the group was a sick baby who was running a high fever. Mother and child were transferred to a hospital in Trapani by ambulance. The rescue team managed to save the shipwrecked people by ferrying them to the coast guard boat via a small raft. The alarm was triggered yesterday evening at 10 p.m. after the coast guard received an SOS from a satellite phone. They were able to trace the call to an inaccessible part of the coastline near Punta Libeccio.
When the harbor rescue team reached the people who had called in the mayday, they were shocked by what they found: Clinging to the cliffs were 48 men, two women and five children.
The rescue operation was an enormous challenge because not only was it a nighttime operation, but the coastline is both almost inaccessible from the sea because of the very rocky shore and almost inaccessible from land because of a danger of landslides.
Initially the rescuers considered a rescue operation by air but ultimately rejected this option because of the instability of the terrain. After hours of failed attempts, the coast guard finally managed to reach the group at 5AM. The two women and five children were first to be brought onto the raft and ferried to the rescue boat.
The women were immediately taken to Trapani; the sick baby was checked into hospital while the rest of the group was brought to a reception center.
The coast guard managed to save the last of the remaining 48 migrants by late morning. They all had clung to the rocks all through the night.
The migrants come from Libya, Tunisia and Syria. The reason for the shipwreck is still unknown, but it is possible that the boat ran aground because it had drifted off course.
Translation: Susanne Privitera Tassé Tagne