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Save the Children Ship recovers 20 bodies

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Save the Children’s search and rescue ship returns to Italy with more than 290 migrants - and 20 bodies - on board, following day of mass rescues and tragedy in the Mediterranean.

Save the Children’s search and rescue ship, the Vos Hestia, is returning to Italy with more than 290 refugees and migrants on board, rescued in two separate operations off the North African coast on Wednesday 26th October. Sadly, the bodies of 20 men and women, who perished before rescuers could save them, were also recovered.

The tragic loss of life comes as new figures suggest more than 3,800 people have drowned crossing the Mediterranean so far in 2016 - making it the deadliest year on record.*

In the first operation of the day, Save the Children’s vessel, alongside German rescue ship Sea Watch, was called to recover 18 bodies which had been discovered in a partially-flooded inflatable dinghy.
Vos Hestia then assisted in two large rescue operations. Firstly, 120 refugees and migrants were transferred from an Irish navy ship. Later that evening, in complete darkness, a further 160 people were brought on board, having been saved by rescue vessels Iuventa and Sea Eye. Two bodies were also recovered in this final operation.

Team leader Gillian Moyes said, “the tragedy in the Mediterranean highlights a desperate need for search and rescue operations. As we retrieve corpses from the water, it’s clear that European states need to start prioritising saving lives over border control. This sea cannot continue to be an unmarked mass grave.”

Save the Children has provided fresh water, food and blankets to everyone on the ship, including several children who say they are travelling alone, pregnant women and families with young children.
Vos Hestia will arrive at the port of Catania on Friday 28th October. Save the Children staff will be present on land to help with the disembarkation process, ensuring children have access to their basic needs and rights once they’ve arrived in Europe.

Photos and footage of Save the Children’s search and rescue operation can be found here : http://storycentral.savethechildren.org.uk/?c=40474&k=ceec27291d

For interviews or more information, please contact Sasha Nicholl on +44 7737 050412 / S.Nicholl@savethechildren.org.uk

* UNHCR: Mediterrnean death toll soars, 2016 is deadliest year.