The following year, on the 18th of April, up to 500 people died in shipwrecks off the Libyan coast.
AsMOAS prepared to commemorate these mass tragedies, our crew were out in the Central Mediterranean on our search and rescue vessel, the Phoenix. Our 2017 mission had launched 2 weeks earlier; a date chosen precisely to avoid yet more April tragedies. As the Phoenix travelled to the zone of operations following a period of bad weather, they knew that many rescues lay ahead of them; but they could never have anticipated the scale of what they were about to face.
Here, we will set out how the weekend unfolded, and how it was that through the determination, teamwork and solidarity among everyone at sea, another mass tragedy was avoided.
On Good Friday, 14th April 2017, throughout the day over 2000 people were rescued by SAR agencies, mostly NGOs and coast guard vessels. The Phoenix participated in the rescue of 273 people, transferring everyone to an Italian coast guard vessel so that our crew could remain in the area to assist