Dear Blog Readers –
Here is a quick update to my earlier post (Back to Lampedusa) on visiting the Portuguese ship Viana Do Castelo. When my AP Television colleague Paolo Santalucia and I visited the ship last Wednesday there were no migrant spottings, but on Friday night the ship kicked into action overnight with their first rescue operation.
They were sent to rescue a migrant ship under distress 40 nautical miles off the Libyan coast. When they reached the migrants they found 201 people packed on board a small, rickety wooden boat. The Portuguese transferred the migrants to their ship where they provided blankets, water, food and medical assistance. On board were 20 women and 15 children.
Under the operating procedures, the identification of the migrants’ nationalities and any finger-printing is left to the Italian authorities once the migrants reach shore.
On Saturday morning the migrants were transferred to the Italian navy ship, the San Giorgio, which is transporting them to Sicily where they are expected to arrive today (Sunday, November 16th).
The crew sent me these photos of the operation.