MILAN (Reuters) – A merchant ship has supplied fuel and water to a boat carrying some 400 migrants in trouble between Greece and Malta but has been ordered by Maltese authorities not to conduct a rescue operation, German NGO Sea-Watch reported. The International said on Monday.
The ship, which departed from Tobruk in Libya amid a surge of migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa, was reported to be afloat and taking in the water by support service Alarm Phone early Sunday.
The alarm phone said the boat was in the Maltese Search and Rescue Area (SAR).
Sea-Watch International, which located the boat with one of its two planes, on Monday accused Malta of not wanting to rescue the people on board even though they were in great danger and the ship was struggling with 1.5-metre waves.
“If the boat keeps moving, it may reach Italy, and Malta will not have to accept people,” she said on her Twitter account.
The Maltese authorities did not respond to several requests for comment.
In a separate episode, at least 23 Africans went missing and four died on Saturday after their boats sank off Tunisia while trying to reach Italy.
Last week, the GeoParents vessel of the charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) rescued 440 migrants off the coast of Malta after a complex 11-hour operation in stormy seas.
On Sunday, nearly 1,000 migrants arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa, south of Sicily, according to the ANSA news agency.
Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Additional reporting by Christopher Sciclona in Valletta; Writing by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Toby Chopra and Barbara Lewis
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