Three migrants aboard a stranded oil tanker at Hurd’s bank jumped overboard on Sunday as crew members aboard the Maersk Etienne acted quickly to bring them back on board.

A source told Times of Malta he heard the distress signal from the Etienne’s captain at 10am.

"I heard the captain talking about the crew successfully retrieving people who had jumped overboard,” the source said. 

Maersk Tankers, the company which owns the vessel, confirmed the incident. It also confirmed that the migrants are safe and being given as much care as possible.

Prime Minister Robert Abela on Sunday insisted that Malta bears no responsibility for the fate of the people on board.

Speaking on the Labour party’s TV station, he acknowledged the issue was of humanitarian concern but placed responsibility for the migrants on the Danish government as the tanker flies the Danish flag.

Meanwhile, Maersk Tankers reiterated the need for immediate aid as the situation reaches breaking point.

“We continue to plead for urgent humanitarian assistance for the 27 people onboard the Maersk Etienne and ask that they are immediately given the attention and care they need,” they said in a brief statement.

Although the narrative has been challenged by Maersk, Danish Shipping, several rescue organisations as well as international migration organisations such as the UNHCR and IOM, and a cross-party group of MEPs, the government insists that the original boat rescued by the Etienne on August 4 was never in Malta’s search and rescue zone.

Many of these organisations condemned the standoff as among the worst in European shores.

Malta also insists it never ordered the Etienne to assist and intervene.

The Etienne’s crisis was recently made visible when Maersk Tankers shared footage of the situation on board. Captain Yeroshkin, the man responsible for the rescue and stewardship, highlighted how an attempt at jumping overboard had been barely stopped by the crew.

The migrant in question had threatened to jump overboard to “liberate the vessel” from himself, implying that he was a burden and that the crew “did not deserve” to remain stuck here for being kind enough to rescue them.

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