Published by Sea-Eye | 28 / Feb / 2024

Dramatic night rescue operation for the rescue ship SEA-EYE 4

We publish on our website the reconstruction of the tragic rescue carried out by the ship Sea-Eye 4 yesterday afternoon.

SEA-EYE 4 crew rescues 57 people. Two people did not survive the flight.

Regensburg, Valletta, Lampedusa 

On Tuesday afternoon, Alarmphone informed the relevant authorities and the rescue ship SEA-EYE 4 of an emergency at sea. A boat with 59 people called for help in the Maltese search and rescue zone. The crew of the SEA-EYE 4 was able to find the boat on Tuesday evening after a five-hour search at around 7 pm. 

It was an overcrowded, two-storey wooden boat. The initial assessment by the crew of the MOCHARA lifeboat revealed that four people were unconscious below deck. In order for the rescue crew to reach them, the people on the upper deck had to be evacuated first. In the end, two people could only be rescued dead. 

As the state of health of other people deteriorated drastically, the head of operations, Julie Schweickert, asked the rescue control centres in Rome and Valletta to evacuate four survivors. The seriously injured people showed symptoms of severe fuel poisoning. The victims, who had been below deck on the boat, were unable to escape the toxic fuel vapours and had lost consciousness as a result. The joint medical team from German Doctors e.V. and Sea-Eye e.V. was unable to determine a clear cause of death for the two deceased persons.

"We in the medical team are very sad that two people did not survive the flight. After the urgent evacuation of one patient by helicopter to Malta, we worked intensively all night in the on-board hospital to stabilise the condition of three other seriously injured patients. We are pleased that we were able to do so until the evacuation of the three people in the morning hours on Lampedusa," says Dr Gerd Klausen, on-board doctor on the SEA-EYE 4 for German Doctors e.V.

The Maltese armed forces evacuated a seriously injured person by helicopter at around 2 a.m. on Wednesday night. The SEA-EYE 4 then followed an Italian coastguard ship to Lampedusa to evacuate three more emergency patients. 

"Our operational year started with a very tragic rescue mission. It is important to realise how cruel it is to be trapped below deck and exposed to toxic fumes. The rescue of the survivors and the prompt evacuation of the seriously injured patients saved the lives of most of the people on board. We are incredibly saddened by the loss of two lives for whom all help came too late. Our thoughts are with their families," says Jan Ribbeck, Head of Search and Rescue operations at Sea-Eye e.V.

The Italian authorities have assigned the SEA-EYE 4 to the Sicilian port of Porto Empedocle to disembark the remaining 53 survivors and two fatalities on board. The SEA-EYE 4 is expected to reach Porto Empedocle at around 10 a.m. on Thursday.

Photo: Leon Salner, Sea-Eye

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