440 migrants rescued from boat off Malta

More than 400 migrants have been rescued from a boat off Malta after an 11-hour operation, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Wednesday after its ship responded to a distress alert.

While heading to shelter in the Mediterranean due to bad weather, MSF’s rescue ship the Geo Barents received the distress signal, the charity tweeted. The Geo Barents finally reached the boat on Tuesday “after more than 10 hours of navigation in a stormy sea”, MSF said.

“Unfortunately, the weather did not allow our team to directly perform the rescue, which could have endangered the lives of the people and those of the MSF team,” it said.

🌊 This morning, at 4 am, after more than 10 hours of navigation in a stormy sea, our team finally reached the boat in distress.
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) April 4, 2023

But by early afternoon, the Geo Barents was able to launch its speed boats to the vessel, MSF tweeted along with photos showing the deck of the blue and white boat packed with people wearing life jackets.

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“After more than 11 hours of operation, the rescue is now over and a total of 440 people, including 8 women and 30 children, are now safely aboard GeoBarents and being cared for by the team,” the charity tweeted.

🦺 In the early afternoon, we launched our speed boats to assess the feasibility of the rescue and distributed life jackets.
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) April 4, 2023

The Geo Barents was detained by Italian authorities in February for allegedly breaking new government rules on life-saving missions in the Mediterranean.

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