Twenty-nine bodies of migrants who died in a stampede during a rescue operation on Friday night were taken down at Haywharf tonight in a lengthy operation which lasted several hours.

A statement by the Italian Coastguard yesterday had stated that 19 people had died but after the boat was towed to Haywharf by an AFM patrol boat and emptied from the seawater it had taken in, the Maltese authorities took out 25 bodies. Another four had been carried on the patrol boat.

The bodies have now been taken to the mortuary and autopsies, as well as a magisterial inquiry, are being held.

Also arriving in Malta this afternoon was a group of 81 migrants brought on a patrol boat after having been rescued this morning.

The migrants who were rescued this morning were picked up by a freighter after they were found to be in distress.

There were then transferred to a patrol boat which arrived in Malta at 12.45pm. The group includes 12 women and two infants.

Home Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia in a tweet said the European Union must take action as Malta and Italy could not be left alone. He thanked the Armed Forces for their work.


The migrants who lost their lives on Friday died when they got trapped in their boat’s lower deck as some 400 others were rescued.

A bowser pumping water out of the migrants' boat. Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaA bowser pumping water out of the migrants' boat. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

Those who were saved were taken to Italy by a merchant vessel, which assisted in the operation, coordinated by the AFM. An infant who also died in the tragedy was taken to Italy as his parents refused to let him go.

According to the Italian Coastguard statement, the alarm was raised by a Danish merchant ship operating close by which realised that the 25-metre boat started taking in water. The migrants’ boat was around nine hours away from land.

The Italian coast guard dispatched two rescue vessels to the area from Lampedusa and two nearby vessels were instructed to assist.

The incident happened inside Malta’s search and rescue area and 68 miles off Lampedusa, which was the closest port of call.

The nationality of the migrants has not yet been established.

Photo: Sarah CarabottPhoto: Sarah Carabott



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