MALTA, September 15, 2014 – (WAFA) – Three Palestinian survivors, from the latest shipwreck in the Mediterranean, were airlifted to Matla, according to Maltese official sources.
The Maltese Prime Minister’s Office called and informed the Palestinian Ambassador to Malta, Jubran Tawil, that three Palestinian survivors were airlifted by a Maltese aircraft from the Maltese merchant ships that spotted saved them to some Maltese hospitals.
Meanwhile, the Maltese Foreign Ministry stated, in a press release, that the Maltese authorities contacted and instructed merchant vessels sailing in the shipwreck area to help rescue and treat Palestinian survivors.
The survivors confirmed that they came from Egypt and that two boats carrying migrants were involved in the accident. The larger boat was carrying between 300 and 400 migrants, while the smaller one was carrying 30 migrants.
The fate of the majority of the migrants could not be identified amidst fear that they could be dead.
Xinhua reported in this regard that an alert was raised Friday afternoon by a merchant ship AMS PEGASUS sighting two persons in water and that the Malta Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) contacted and ordered several adjacent merchant vessels to search and locate other possible persons at sea. A Maritime Patrol Aircraft of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) and three Italian Coastguard and Navy Aircraft were also dispatched to conduct further searches in the area.
The Times of Malta reported that 11 migrants were rescued, including three who were airlifted and transferred to Mater Dei Hospital Sunday before 6:00 pm and eight others who were sent to Greece. It added that two bodies, including that of a young girl, arrived Sunday morning at the Freeport aboard the merchant vessel CMA CGM Verdi.
Sources from the Armed Forces of Malta reported survivors as saying that some on the smaller boat, which could have been taking in water, were trying to get the bigger boat to stop before they eventually rammed it causing both vessels to sink.
Dozens of Palestinians have been recently leaving the war-torn blockaded Gaza Strip to Egypt through cross-border tunnels, seeking to migrate to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. The number of Palestinians seeking emigration has increased in the aftermath of the recent devastating Israeli onslaught on the strip.