Updated at 5.20pm
A group of asylum seekers currently aboard a sinking boat in Malta’s search and rescue zone are in desperate need of rescuing, according to the emergency hotline Alarm Phone.
The rubber boat, carrying around 110 people fleeing war-torn Libya, has been out at sea since Thursday and is in bad shape, said a spokesperson of the NGO.
Ten women and three children are among those aboard.
“The boat tubes are deflating, they don’t have any fuel and they are putting out the entering water with their hands,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) said they were currently monitoring the situation but were not able to able disclose further information.
There were other similar cases in Malta's SAR, the AFM spokesperson added, but declined to give further information.
However, Alarm Phone told Times of Malta the people aboard the vessel were in a panic since the AFM had been notified of the critical situation on Friday night, but had not acted or given any information as to their intentions.
++ SOS ++ In the night we were alerted by about 110 people on a rubber boat in distress in Maltese SAR, we informed authorities at 0:52hCET. The people fled from #Libya & told us, they are at sea for more than 30h now. The boat is deflating, the people need immediate rescue now! pic.twitter.com/MVOcOJ9ru2— Alarm Phone (@alarm_phone) March 14, 2020
“It is difficult to calm them down when AFM is quiet about their plans. This is so dangerous because the people quickly start to lose hope,” the spokesperson said.
An oil tanker that spotted the sinking ship Friday night stopped to give the people aboard some relief but had to head off in the morning leaving the people stranded again, she added.
The last contact the emergency hotline had with the boat was a message they received at 11.30am saying "please madam our life matters."
Second boat in Maltese waters calls for help
A second boat with 49 asylum seekers including a pregnant woman and three children is in distress and needs help, according to Alarm Phone.
The Maltese authorities have not responded to the requests to aid the boat which has been at sea since yesterday evening, said a spokesperson for the NGO.
The vessel, located in Maltese waters, is drifting since the engine fell off, and people are in danger, she added.
The AFM did not respond to calls by Times of Malta about the boat in question.
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🆘Another boat in urgent distress reached out to #AlarmPhone from #Malta SAR zone: on board there are 49 people fleeing #Libya. They are drifting & they are urgently asking for help, but @Armed_Forces_MT does not answer the phone and does not respond to the distress call! pic.twitter.com/0Vn7pp9ZkO— Alarm Phone (@alarm_phone) March 14, 2020
A search and rescue NGO warned AFM that they would be held accountable if they left the migrants to die or go back.
"Armed Forces of Malta there are two distress casesin your rescue region, with 150+ people at risk of drowning," tweeted Sea-Watch international.
"By not rendering or coordinating assistance you are violating international law with unbelievable audacity."
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