Tragic operation in the Mediterranean


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.