A group of 27 people rescued by a tanker have been transferred to an NGO ship, more than one month after they were saved at sea.

The group – including a pregnant woman and a minor – had been rescued by the Maersk Etienne oil tanker on August 4 and spent 38 days on the Danish-flagged vessel docked at Hurd’s Bank off the coast of Malta.

They have now been transferred to the Mare Jonio, a ship operated by sea rescue NGO Mediterranea.

Both Denmark and Malta insist that the migrants were rescued in Tunisian waters when they were picked up on August 4.

The Mare Jonio remains at Hurd's bank, but the crew onboard is better able to see to the rescued people's health requirements.

Photo: Marine TrafficPhoto: Marine Traffic

Maersk Tankers said they have been increasingly concerned for the rescued people’s physical and mental health following their prolonged stay onboard the Etienne.

"The situation has worsened following the recent incident where three of the people jumped overboard, and we have seen continuous issues with minor medical aliments and a recent threat to go on hunger strike.
"We requested assistance and agreed with Mediterranea that they will conduct a health assessment using the medical team onboard the Mare Jonio. The transfer to the ship occurred following their assessment that the rescued people’s condition called for immediate care in suitable medical facilities."
The Maersk Etienne will proceed to a "suitable port" to ensure the crew get the care they need.
"The captain and the crew of the Maersk Etienne have honourably fulfilled their duty at sea, and we are proud and greatly appreciative of their efforts. We thank them, Mediterranea, shipping and trade associations and human rights groups who have supported us since the rescue operation took place," the company said on Friday.

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