The Norwegian offshore vessel Ocean Viking, chartered by a humanitarian organization to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean, was finally allowed by Italian authorities to sail for Sicily after unrest on board that threatened its crew during the weekend.
“We have received a message to sail to Empedocle and take contact with harbour authorities when we arrive for further instructions,” Trym Jacobsen of the vessel’s owner Hoyland Offshore told state broadcaster NRK. The vessel’s Norwegian captain had earlier warned of trouble among the roughly 180 desperate migrants on board, several of whom had attempted suicide after already risking their lives to flee North Africa.
The migrants had been brought on board the Ocean Viking, which is operating on behalf of the organization SOS Méditerranée, in four separate rescue efforts since June 25. Many had thus been been waiting a long time in confined quarters to be brought to land, leading to the unrest that prompted the captain to declare a State of Emergency on board. All must also be tested for the Corona virus, after which the migrants were due to be transferred to a quarantine ship at the Italian port.