The Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Týr rescued 408 refugees from a tramp steamer 165 nautical miles east of Malta yesterday morning. This is the second time in the past week that the ship rescues a large group of refugees in the Mediterranean. Earlier in the week, 390 individuals were rescued from another boat, ruv.is reports.
The boat’s emergency alarm system sounded early yesterday morning. With the assistance of a surveillance plane the ship located the boat’s location. Four patrol boat officers went aboard the vessel to check on conditions onboard and concluded they were ok, as stated in a press release from the Icelandic Coast Guard.
Shortly after the boat’s engine stopped, it was decided, in consultation with the Italian authorities, to transfer the people to Týr and a Spanish research vessel in the area in order to transport them to the local port in Italy. The boats are expected to arrive in Italy around midday.
A record number of refugees have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year. According to UNHCR, 3,419 people have perished in the waters off Europe in 2014. A total of 207,000 have made the journey, three times as many as in 2011, which was a record year. The largest group is from Syria, or 60,000 individuals.
Týr, which left Reykjavík on Thursday, is carrying out assignments for Frontex, the European Union’s external borders agency. The vessel will continue to operate south of Italy for the next two months as will the Icelandic Coast Guard’s surveillance aircraft Dash 8.