Disembarkation in Neapel

Sea rescuers mourn and grieve the death of three people.

On 06.02.2023 the SEA-EYE 4 reached the port of Naples with 105 rescued persons as well as two dead bodies on board. There, all 105 survivors were able to safely go ashore, and the deceased were also taken off the ship.

It was a difficult mission with a total of three deaths! During the night from Thursday to Friday, the crew of SEA-EYE 4 conducted two rescue missions. Two people could only be recovered dead. Another person died after an emergency evacuation on Sunday in a hospital on shore. Earlier, another person had to be evacuated from aboard the SEA-EYE 4 and continues to be treated in a hospital. Among the dead is a young mother whose baby is among the survivors.

Italian authorities prolonged the suffering of the survivors by assigning the rescue ship to the port of Naples, more than 480 km away. Previously, the Italian authorities had even named the port of Pesaro, 1000 km away. For the SEA-EYE 4, a Sicilian port would have been much quicker to reach and people would have had much faster access to the medical care they needed.

Disembarkation in Neapel

The SEA-EYE 4 is currently still in the port of Naples, from where it will make its way to Burriana at the earliest opportunity. There, the ship will go into the shipyard for routine maintenance work.

It is cynical to speak of a concession in the allocation of the port of Naples just because the initially allocated port of Pesaro was even further away. The southern Sicilian ports could have been reached much earlier. The Italian government must stop making the work of sea rescue organizations more difficult and thus also prolonging the suffering of people seeking protection. All available government and civil resources must be used to prevent as many deaths as possible. It is an ongoing crime against humanity,” said Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e.V.

Disembarkation in Neapel

Overall, it was the most dramatic experience I have had at sea. Especially the people in the first rescue were in extremely poor health when they arrived on board with us. They had spent six days on the boat without food, without drinking water. Two bodies were brought on board. It was very upsetting for everyone,“ says mission doctor Dr. Angelika Leist of German Doctors e.V.


In the first of two rescues during the night from Thursday to Friday, all help came too late for two people. The crew of the SEA-EYE 4 could only recover their bodies, including the mother of a baby, who is now being cared for on board the rescue ship.

These were dramatic hours on the central Mediterranean: In the night from Thursday to Friday, the crew of the SEA-EYE 4 was able to rescue a total of 109 people from distress at sea, including numerous children. During the first rescue mission, 32 people could be saved. However, the rescue was overshadowed by two deaths that occurred before the SEA-EYE 4 arrived. One of the deceased had made the life-threatening crossing with her baby. Immediately afterwards, the rescue ship set off for a second distress case.


During the night, another 77 people were rescued, including a pregnant woman. The SEA-EYE 4 is now on its way to Pesaro with a total of 109 survivors on board, the port assigned by Italy is about five days away. Italian authorities did not respond to a request for a closer port by Friday noon.

Six days the people of the first distress case were on the way on an unseaworthy metal boat. The distress was discovered and reported by the civil search and rescue aircraft Seabird of Sea-Watch e.V. late Thursday afternoon. As the only rescue ship that was underway in the area of operation at that time, the SEA-EYE 4 immediately set off. The journey took a total of 6 hours. When the rescuers reached the scene, two of the 34 people in the boat had already died. The Sea-Eye crew could only recover their bodies.


Many of the survivors had to be treated in the shipboard hospital. The medical team is still at its limit and in the process of treating several injured people. One person was in such bad condition that he was evacuated by the Maltese authorities by rescue helicopter on Friday morning.

In the past six years, in more than two dozen missions, we always arrived in time to prevent the loss of life. But this time we arrived too late for two people. They were at the mercy of Europe’s brutal border regime for six days. That is unforgivable. A mother lost her life even before we could reach the boat. A baby became a half-orphan. A man lost his wife. We are deeply saddened. Our thoughts are with the grieving families of the deceased. We are now bringing the survivors to safety,” said Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e.V.

Refugee child

The news that our help for two people came too late makes us deeply sad and at the same time very angry. It is inhumane and shameful that the EU member states have stood idly by and watched the deaths in the Mediterranean Sea for years. Our thoughts are with the relatives of those who died, with those who were rescued, and we wish the crew of the SEA-EYE 4 that they will be able to stabilize the survivors and bring them to a port of safety soon,” explains Dr. Harald Kischlat, Chairman of German Doctors e.V. The organization regularly provides volunteer ship’s doctors for the missions of the SEA-EYE 4, including this mission.