‘third child’ dies on migrant ship stranded in mediterranean sea
Malta – Activists and relatives of Lebanese and Syrian migrants and refugees stranded aboard a sinking boat off the island of Malta said a third child had died on the ship and that they had lost contact.
The international activist network Alarm Phone said on Tuesday that the last contact with about 60 Lebanese and Syrians occurred at night.
The ship left the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli about 10 days ago. Among the passengers bound for Italy are Syrian refugees and Lebanese from the north of the country.
Migrants and refugees told their relatives and volunteer groups via satellite phone that they had been without food, water, or formula for several days.
They also said a third child died on board due to dehydration, relatives said. The passengers called on the European Coast Guard to rescue them.
Alarm Phone tweeted that it continues to notify the authorities, but they “refuse to let us know if any rescue work has been undertaken.”
Malta has also refused permission for a commercial cargo ship to rescue stranded migrants and refugees, the network said. Maltese authorities have not yet responded to requests from the Associated Press news agency for comment on the boat.
Lebanon has become a launching pad for dangerous maritime migration to Europe as it has struggled for the past three years with an economic crisis that has pushed three-quarters of its population below the poverty line.
As the crisis deepens, more Lebanese, as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugees, are heading to sea, with security services reporting thwarted migration attempts almost weekly.
Also on Tuesday, a four-year-old girl drowned while rescuing more than 60 asylum seekers in distress in Maltese waters, the Greek Coast Guard said. They added that their Maltese counterpart had notified them of the airlift assistance.
The girl, along with 62 other people, was picked up by an Antigua-flagged cargo ship when their boat got into trouble at sea. The child and her mother were taken by a Greek Navy helicopter to a hospital in Crete, where doctors pronounced her dead.