The captain of an oil tanker stranded just outside Maltese waters has urgently appealed for 27 migrants they had rescued at the beginning of August to be brought to shore.
Footage sent to Times of Malta reveals the difficult conditions aboard the tanker, confirming reports by the ship's owners which were published last week.
The video shows people aboard having to make do with temporary shelters made of canvas, makeshift dressing rooms and beds made of repurposed, thick ropes and cardboard boxes. Cramped compartments within the vessel have been turned into haphazard sleeping quarters whilst clothes and towels hang off railings or pipes.
The Maersk Etienne, currently at Hurd's Bank, is at double its usual carrying capacity and has been out at sea for over a month. It rescued the 27 people at sea on August 4 and has been unable to bring them to shore since, with no government accepting responsibility for them.
Maersk say that it is the longest time a commercial vessel has been stuck at sea due to a migration-related standoff.
Malta has denied the ship's claims that it instructed it to rescue the migrants, and said that the rescue did not happen in Malta's search and rescue zone.
The Danish-flagged ship has stressed that its reserves are running out and that the situation is becoming increasingly desperate.
“None of us could imagine that the vessel will end up in a four-week standoff. We really require immediate assistance. These people need to disembark as soon as possible,” Volodymyr Yeroshkin, the captain of the ship, is heard saying in the footage.
"They're anxious to disembark and get in touch with their loved ones and families," he added.
He also confirmed reports about the dramatic moments when one of the survivors threatened to jump overboard.
"He said he was picked up in the sea and some vessel ship’s crew is not guilty of not allowing him to step ashore. He wanted to jump over the side to make the vessel free," the captain said.
Despite the trying circumstances, many aboard seem to have adapted to their confinement. In the footage, the migrants can be seen staring out into the distance or sitting quietly with grave facial expressions. Others are seen chatting, doing chores or passing time with a game of checkers.
“Unfortunately, none of the competent authorities are here to make a decision. These people are not given their basic right to step ashore. The vessel is paralysed and cannot sail anywhere,” Yeroshkin explained.
The captain of the ship also emphasized the fact that his crew members are “professional seafarers” and that “none of them are qualified for medical treatment or the general care of rescued people.”
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