Coastguards rescue 49 migrants from Banksy’s rescue boat

Rescuers lift 209 migrants to safety from Banksy’s rescue boat after crew put out mayday alerts saying it was stuck in the Mediterranean due to overcrowding and could have capsized

  • 209 migrants were transferred from the MV Louise Michel on to another rescue boat after a mayday alert  
  • It became so overcrowded that it was in danger of capsizing between Malta and the island of Lampedusa
  • Earlier on Saturday, Italian coastguards were only able to rescue 49 of the most vulnerable passengers
  • But late last night, fellow rescue boat Sea Watch 4 arrived to help ‘all remaining guests’ off the Louise Michel

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Hundreds of migrants were lifted to safety from a rescue boat funded by street artist Banksy after it became so overcrowded that it was in danger of capsizing in the Mediterranean.

Some 209 migrants were transferred from the MV Louise Michel on to another rescue boat, after its crew put out a series of mayday alerts saying the vessel could not move due to an overcrowded deck.

Earlier on Saturday, Italian coastguards had reached the Louise Michel – stranded in waters between Malta and the island of Lampedusa – but were only able to rescue 49 of the most vulnerable passenger, including 13 children. 

But late last night, a fellow rescue boat Sea Watch 4 arrived to help ‘all remaining guests’ off the Louise Michel, according to a tweet put out by the latter’s crew.

The ten-strong crew of the Louise Michel also tweeted: ‘It’s not over: We demand a Place of Safety for all survivors, now.’

Crew members of civil sea rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 and medical Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on inflatable boats help migrants to get off the rescue ship

Crew members of civil sea rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 and medical Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on inflatable boats help migrants to get off the rescue ship

The MV Louise Micheal, named after a female anarchist, lying in waters between Malta and the island of Lampedusa

The MV Louise Micheal, named after a female anarchist, lying in waters between Malta and the island of Lampedusa

Migrants rescued by Sea-Watch 4 a week ago in the international waters off Libya watch crew members of civil sea rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 on inflatable boats help migrants to get off the rescue ship

Migrants rescued by Sea-Watch 4 a week ago in the international waters off Libya watch crew members of civil sea rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 on inflatable boats help migrants to get off the rescue ship

Sea-Watch 4 crew members and medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) help migrants from the Louise Michel to board Sea Watch 4

Sea-Watch 4 crew members and medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) help migrants from the Louise Michel to board Sea Watch 4 

Migrants who were just were helped off the rescue ship wrap themselves in blankets and wear face masks to protect themselves against coronavirus

Migrants who were just were helped off the rescue ship wrap themselves in blankets and wear face masks to protect themselves against coronavirus

Civil sea rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 crew and Doctors without Borders members help migrants and cover them with blankets

Civil sea rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 crew and Doctors without Borders members help migrants and cover them with blankets 

The Louise Michel’s passengers were mainly African men believed to have set off from the Libyan coast in flimsy dinghies – but also include women and children

The Louise Michel’s passengers were mainly African men believed to have set off from the Libyan coast in flimsy dinghies – but also include women and children

The Louise Michel last night remained dangerously overloaded and was said to be ‘losing its balance’ but other rescue ships have started to help get migrants off the boat

The Louise Michel last night remained dangerously overloaded and was said to be ‘losing its balance’ but other rescue ships have started to help get migrants off the boat

The 100ft former French navy vessel, named after a female anarchist, had been almost double its maximum safe capacity of 120 and was said to be ‘losing its balance’

The 100ft former French navy vessel, named after a female anarchist, had been almost double its maximum safe capacity of 120 and was said to be ‘losing its balance’

The 100ft former French navy vessel, named after a female anarchist, had been almost double its maximum safe capacity of 120 and was said to be ‘losing its balance’.

In earlier tweet its crew had asked for urgent help, posting: ‘We repeat, #LouiseMichel is unable to safely move and nobody is coming to our aid. 

‘The people rescued have experienced extreme trauma, it’s time for them to be brought to a #PlaceOfSafety. We need immediate assistance.’

But migration activists criticised Banksy for launching a rescue ship in the Mediterranean, saying it would only encourage people smugglers to put more migrants on small boats and send them towards Europe.

The boat features some of Banksy’s trademark work, including a girl in a life vest holding a heartshaped safety buoy. 

The Sea-Watch 4 vessel  has a clinic and has already rescued 201 migrants onboard and is itself still in search of a host port

The Sea-Watch 4 vessel  has a clinic and has already rescued 201 migrants onboard and is itself still in search of a host port

Migration activists criticised Banksy for launching a rescue ship in the Mediterranean, saying it would only encourage people smugglers to put more migrants on small boats and send them towards Europe

Migration activists criticised Banksy for launching a rescue ship in the Mediterranean, saying it would only encourage people smugglers to put more migrants on small boats and send them towards Europe

An Italian coastguard vessel rushed to Louise Michel  after it sent out a call for help. They are pictured here being helped into the new vessel

An Italian coastguard vessel rushed to Louise Michel  after it sent out a call for help. They are pictured here being helped into the new vessel

Migrants traveling away from Louise Michel which features some of Banksy's trademark work, including a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped safety buoy

Migrants traveling away from Louise Michel which features some of Banksy’s trademark work, including a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped safety buoy

So far this year, 550 migrants have died trying to cross the 300- mile stretch between Libya and the coasts of Italy and Malta

So far this year, 550 migrants have died trying to cross the 300- mile stretch between Libya and the coasts of Italy and Malta

On Wednesday, 45 people – including five children – died when the engine on their boat exploded off the coast of Libya. A migrant being lowered onto Sea-Watch 4 a

On Wednesday, 45 people – including five children – died when the engine on their boat exploded off the coast of Libya. A migrant being lowered onto Sea-Watch 4 a

Migrants who have just been helped off the Louise Michel queue to see crew members and doctors including an injured man with crutches

Migrants who have just been helped off the Louise Michel queue to see crew members and doctors including an injured man with crutches

Appealing for help, Lea Reisner, head of operations for the Louise Michel, said: ‘The people have sat in a mix of salt water and fuel for days'

Appealing for help, Lea Reisner, head of operations for the Louise Michel, said: ‘The people have sat in a mix of salt water and fuel for days’

Alp Mehmet, chairman of campaign group Migration Watch, said: ‘Although Banksy may think what he is doing is helping, his actions are only serving to encourage this evil trade of migrant trafficking

Alp Mehmet, chairman of campaign group Migration Watch, said: ‘Although Banksy may think what he is doing is helping, his actions are only serving to encourage this evil trade of migrant trafficking

'Solar blankets' are often used in emergency situations because they keep the body warm during cold weather and deflect heat during hot weather

‘Solar blankets’ are often used in emergency situations because they keep the body warm during cold weather and deflect heat during hot weather

A crew member takes the temperature of a migrant  who has just been helped off Banksy's ship who is wearing protective clothes and a face mask

A crew member takes the temperature of a migrant  who has just been helped off Banksy’s ship who is wearing protective clothes and a face mask

A crew member gives a migrant a face mask in order to protect the large amounts of people on the boat from spreading coronavirus

A crew member gives a migrant a face mask in order to protect the large amounts of people on the boat from spreading coronavirus

So far this year, 550 migrants have died trying to cross the 300- mile stretch between Libya and the coasts of Italy and Malta.

The Louise Michel’s passengers were mainly African men believed to have set off from the Libyan coast in flimsy dinghies – but also include women and children.

One of the dinghies carrying the migrants also had a dead body, which was taken on board and then placed on a life raft, covered by a white sheet. The life raft was then attached to the Louise Michel. 

Appealing for help, Lea Reisner, head of operations for the Louise Michel, said: ‘The people have sat in a mix of salt water and fuel for days. It is night and European states are not doing their f****** job. They deny responsibility while we are trying to keep everyone alive.’ 

But Alp Mehmet, chairman of campaign group Migration Watch, said: ‘Although Banksy may think what he is doing is helping, his actions are only serving to encourage this evil trade of migrant trafficking.

These people only care about making money and profit from others’ misery.

‘By launching this search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean, traffickers will be able to convince more migrants to attempt the perilous crossing.’ 

Migrants are being scanned for body temperature by volunteers as they arrive

Migrants are being scanned for body temperature by volunteers as they arrive

An injured migrant is being transferred to hospital at Lampedusa. Official data shows that more than 19,500 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from Africa to either Italy or Malta this year

An injured migrant is being transferred to hospital at Lampedusa. Official data shows that more than 19,500 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from Africa to either Italy or Malta this year

Rescued migrants arrive after being transferred at the commercial port of Lampedusa. Last night, the United Nations also weighed into the furore by saying it was concerned about the lack of dedicated EU-led search and rescue efforts

Rescued migrants arrive after being transferred at the commercial port of Lampedusa. Last night, the United Nations also weighed into the furore by saying it was concerned about the lack of dedicated EU-led search and rescue efforts

Pictured: Migrants being transferred at the commercial port of Lampedusa. Official data shows that more than 19,500 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from Africa to either Italy or Malta this year

Pictured: Migrants being transferred at the commercial port of Lampedusa. Official data shows that more than 19,500 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from Africa to either Italy or Malta this year

Pictured: A group of migrants wearing protective clothing waiting to be transferred by the minibus from the port to the Lampedusa after disembarking from the ship

Pictured: A group of migrants wearing protective clothing waiting to be transferred by the minibus from the port to the Lampedusa after disembarking from the ship

On Wednesday, 45 people – including five children – died when the engine on their boat exploded off the coast of Libya. 

Official data shows that more than 19,500 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from Africa to either Italy or Malta this year. 

Although Banksy has not said how much he has paid towards the vessel, the Louise Michel is believed to have cost £860,000.

Last night, the United Nations also weighed into the furore by saying it was concerned about the lack of dedicated EU-led search and rescue efforts.

In a statement, the UN High Commission for Refugees said: ‘The humanitarian imperative of saving lives should not be penalised or stigmatised, especially in the absence of dedicated state-led efforts.’ 

Italian coastguards yesterday reached the vessel but were only able to rescue 49 of the most vulnerable passengers, among them 13 children

Italian coastguards yesterday reached the vessel but were only able to rescue 49 of the most vulnerable passengers, among them 13 children

Men from different African nationalities wait to be assisted by crew members of the Louise Michel and Astral rescue vessels, after being located sailing adrift on an overcrowded rubber boat

Men from different African nationalities wait to be assisted by crew members of the Louise Michel and Astral rescue vessels, after being located sailing adrift on an overcrowded rubber boat

An Italian Coast Guard boat gets ready to dock in the port before disembarking a group of migrants from Libya that were rescued near the coast of Lampedusa by the ship Louis Michel

An Italian Coast Guard boat gets ready to dock in the port before disembarking a group of migrants from Libya that were rescued near the coast of Lampedusa by the ship Louis Michel

A Banksy-funded refugee rescue boat is stranded in the Mediterranean Sea with a dead migrant onboard after becoming too overcrowded to sail safely

A Banksy-funded refugee rescue boat is stranded in the Mediterranean Sea with a dead migrant onboard after becoming too overcrowded to sail safely

In a statement, the UN High Commission for Refugees said: ‘The humanitarian imperative of saving lives should not be penalised or stigmatised, especially in the absence of dedicated state-led efforts'

In a statement, the UN High Commission for Refugees said: ‘The humanitarian imperative of saving lives should not be penalised or stigmatised, especially in the absence of dedicated state-led efforts’ 

There are more than 200 people on board the Louise Michel and one dead body, according to tweets posted from the vessel's account

There are more than 200 people on board the Louise Michel and one dead body, according to tweets posted from the vessel’s account

There are more than 200 people on board the Louise Michel, including 10 crew members, with dozens of migrants suffering from fuels burns and dehydration after days at sea

There are more than 200 people on board the Louise Michel, including 10 crew members, with dozens of migrants suffering from fuels burns and dehydration after days at sea

The Louise Michel set off in secrecy on August 18 from the Spanish port of Burriana, near Valencia. Banksy remained silent about the crisis in the Med last night, but earlier issued a video on his Instagram page, where he told his 10 million followers: ‘Like most people who make it in the art world, I bought a yacht to cruise the Med. 

‘It’s a French navy vessel we converted into a lifeboat, because EU authorities deliberately ignore distress calls from non-Europeans.’

Banksy, who hides his real identity, is believed to have asked a controversial German sea pilot and human rights activist called Pia Klemp for help.

Her company Sea-Watch has provided the all-vegan ten-man crew for the vessel, which sailed under the German flag.

Sea-Watch rescued more than 1,000 migrants in the Med last year, which has angered the Italian Government.

Italian authorities have charged Ms Klemp in absentia with aiding illegal immigration.

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