Doctors Without Borders announced, on Tuesday, the death of a pregnant woman and the loss of at least 22 people, including children, after a ship sank in the central Mediterranean.
The humanitarian NGO was able to rescue 71 people, including a four-month-old baby, through its Geo Barents ambulance ship, during the shipwreck that occurred on Monday off the Libyan coast.
“Yesterday we faced our worst nightmare come true,” team captain Ricardo Gatti said in a statement.
The makeshift boat was sinking and several people were already in the water when Geo Barents arrived at the scene, following a distress call.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said a pregnant woman was taken aboard the ship, but she did not survive despite desperate attempts to save her.
At least 22 people are also missing, according to information gathered from survivors.
Two women said they lost their children at sea, while another young woman lost her baby brother.
An infant was resuscitated on board the ship before being taken to Malta in a medical emergency, along with his mother, while the other survivors remained on board the Geo Barents.
“Survivors were exhausted, many had eaten large amounts of seawater, and many had hypothermia after spending long hours in the water,” said Stephanie Hofstetter, MSF’s lead medical team on board the ship.
“At least 10 people, mostly women, have moderate to severe fuel burns and need more care.”
The crossing of the central Mediterranean is the deadliest in the world for migrants who set out there on makeshift boats.
According to the Italian Ministry of the Interior, nearly 27,000 people have arrived in Italy by sea from the coast of North Africa since the beginning of the year, compared to less than 20,000 during the same period in 2021.