The fearless crew of a Turkish ship that rescued over 450 migrants off Libya has explained the dramatic breathtaking moments that unfolded during their rescue efforts.
The crew of a ship called “Roseline A,” which belongs to Arkas Holding and which was heading to Tunisia from Libya, noticed that a total of 466 migrants were struggling for their lives off Libya on May 30, 2017. The 18-person-crew identified the boat when it was on the verge to be torn apart and approched the migrants just in time.
The daring captain of the vessel, Mert Karamahmutoğlu, 37, who has been a sailor for the last 18 years and a captain for the last six, detailed how the incident occurred.
Around noon we got the information relating migrant search and rescue on the way from Italia Coast Guard and Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre [MRCC] some 75 miles south of us. At first the information that we received was that there were some 3,000 people in the sea waiting to be rescued. We were six hours distant from the location, said Captain Karamahmutoğlu.
We altered our route and went to rescue. We held a meeting with the crew and distributed the work until we reached the location. There are always supplies ready in Arkas ships in the event of situations like these,” he also said.
Karamahmutoğlu noted that the boats were packed with people waiting to be rescued after many hours stranded at sea.
Approximately 466 people were there on the boat. They had been waiting to be rescued from last two days on the sea and they had begun to assault each other. When we threw down ropes and ladders, they all started to be the first ones to get out of the boat and started jumping over each other. They were all panicked. It was totally a life and death situation. We tried calmed them down with making repeated announcements, added the captain.
The fearless crew of Turkish ship that rescued over 450 migrants in a dramatic incident really are the ones to be applauded. They are the hope for all people who are struck and endangered at sea.
Capt. Karamahmutoğlu said the boat that the migrants had been on would regularly carried a maximum of 20 people and that he would not have been used to “even if only to travel from Üsküdar to Beşiktaş in Istanbul. The human smugglers took between $500 and $2,000 from each migrant. They brought the refugees to the boat with Zodiac boats. Some of the migrants didn’t want to get on it but the smugglers endangered them with rifles. It was quite apparent that the boat wouldn’t be able to reach the land. But fortunately the crew found them. And then the further preparations were made to comfort the saved refugees.
The preparations were made in accordance with the basic needs of the migrants. The crew knitted covers for them which they used as blankets. A menu consisting of meat, pasta and lentils was especially created to provide them with the healthy food. After all these people had been hungry for five days and needed protein in their diet. Portable toilets and showers were also installed on the deck for them.
The captain tried to comfort them by listening to their stories during the 26 hours struggle, when they were together on the ship. They were trying to escape from their countries to escape death. The third captain of the ship, Berkay Özbek, aged 28 years, added the process of getting all refugees on board wasn’t easy.
It took almost two hours for all of them to get over the vessel. The migrants were full of gratitude and they hugged the crew members. It was a moment for them that they could not forget. The crew tried to cheer up the migrants. A crew of the vessel mimicked Michael Jackson and they immediately started laughing. It made the crew even happier and to see the people who survived death just a couple of hours ago smile,” he added.
An intern on the vessel, Aybike Ceylan, 21, narrated the scene of the refugees trying to get on board as “spine-chilling.” The women and children were unable to climb up with ropes. They were provided with the ladders. Six pregnant women were sent to a ship of the Italian Naval Forces. The wounded migrants were also sent over the naval ships. There were 35 kids aged between six and 10 years and we took them to a separate boat.
An act such as this revives one’s faith in times where chances of survival seem bleak. The crew is definitely the fearless. Hats off to their adventurous and lifesaving attitude.