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Old 30-12-14, 19:04   #1
 
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Update PhOtOs-Italy Saved 970 Migrants from Armed Men on Hijacked Ship

Greek Special Forces to Intercept Migrant Ship Carrying 600 that Issued SOS off Coast of Corfu 'Because of Armed Men on Board'

  • Ship carrying 600 illegal immigrants' issue distress call near Corfu
  • Emergency call said there are 'armed people on board the ship'
  • Vessel is a Moldovan cargo ship which was travelling to Croatia
  • Ship tracking shows that ship made a sharp turn towards Italy
Daily Mail UK, 30 December 2014


Greek special forces are set to intercept a ship carrying up to 600 illegal immigrants that issued a distress call off the coast of Corfu earlier today.

Someone on the vessel, a Moldovan cargo ship called Blue Sky M, called emergency services claiming that there were armed people on board.
Blue Sky M, last tracked northwest of Corfu, was headed to Croatia when it sent out the distress call, but tracking services show that the ship has made a sharp turn, setting course towards Italy.








An armed special missions officer of the Greek coast guard prepares to set off from Corfu harbour for waters off the Ionian island of Othoni, responding to a distress signal from Moldovan-registered 'Blue Sky M'





Distress call: Moldovan cargo ship Blue Sky was allegedly carrying 700 illegal immigrants when it sent out the distress call (not pictured today)



A merchant marine ministry official said the distress call had come from one of the passengers on board the ship, a man who had told emergency services 'we have no water, blankets, or food'.
This afternoon, BBC producer Piers Scholfield tweeted that a Greek frigate sent to aid Blue Sky M made contact, and was told the ship is 'not in danger, but needs food supplies'.

He also posted:

'Greek coastguard spokesman tells my colleague the ship Blue Sky M is now under Italian jurisdiction & no one on board is in danger.'

Two military helicopters who flew over Blue Sky M this afternoon reported no sign of life on board





The rescue operation is being coordinated by the Corfu harbour master. The Hellenic Navy frigate 'Navarino' and an S-70 Sikorsky helicopter have also been sent to the area






Shiptracking service show that Blue Sky has recently changed its course and made a sharp turn towards Italy instead of Croatia where it was heading






Further shiptracking data shows that Blue Sky made two sharp turns before heading towards Italy



The incident comes two days after a Greek passenger ferry with more than 400 people on board caught fire in the same area, leading to a huge rescue operation by Italian and Greek coast guard and military officials.
At least 10 people died in that incident, while more than 400 were rescued.
Authorities are still searching for potential missing passengers from the Norman Atlantic ferry.

The Greek frigate Navarino, which is heading to locate the cargo ship, had been in the area assisting in the rescue operation for the Norman Atlantic.
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Old 31-12-14, 19:06   #2
 
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Update re: PhOtOs-Italy Saved 970 Migrants from Armed Men on Hijacked Ship

Italy Saves 970 Migrants Abandoned by Armed Smugglers

AP, 31 December 2014


ROME (AP) The Italian Coast Guard rescued 970 migrants Wednesday after smugglers put their cargo ship on automatic pilot heading straight for a crash into the Italian coast and abandoned the command.
The Coast Guard officials said the migrants, most believed to be Syrians and Kurds and including many children and pregnant women, arrived safely in Gallipoli, in Italy's southeastern Puglia region, before dawn Wednesday. More than 100 migrants were treated for hypothermia.


"It was a raceagainst time," said Coast Guard Cmdr. Filippo Marini. "The ship was only a few (nautical) miles away from the coast of Puglia" on Tuesday night when six Coast Guard officials were lowered by helicopter onto the bridge of the Moldovan-flagged Blue Sky M to try to correct the ship's course.





The Moldovan-flagged Blue Sky M carrying hundreds of migrants arrives at the southern Italian port of Gallipoli, some 170 kilometers (108 miles) south of Bari, Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014.


Italian authorities took control Tuesday of a cargo ship carrying hundreds of migrants after the crew disappeared and set it on a programmed route to crash into a coast, officials said. The alarm was first raised about the Blue Sky M after a passenger sent a distress call earlier Tuesday when the ship was off Greece. The operation came two days after a Greek-operated ferry caught fire between Greece and Italy with the loss of at least 11 lives, prompting a two-day search and rescue effort.

Marini said the smugglers apparently had left the engine blocked on automatic pilot at a speed of 6 knots (nearly 7 mph) into the coast.
"There would have been death and destruction" if the vessel had crashed into the coast, he added.

Because a storm was churning up the Adriatic Sea, rescuers couldn't board the ship from nearby Coast Guard vessels. But once on board they unblocked the engine and steered the vessel safely into Gallipoli's harbor, Marini said.
The Coast Guard traced the ship's location after a passenger made a satellite phone call seeking help. It was not clear what port the ship had left from.

To avoid capture, smugglers frequently abandon migrants at sea, sometimes overturning the passengers' unseaworthy boats, according to survivors. This year alone, well over 100,000 migrants were rescued at sea by Italy. Hundreds drowned in the attempt.

Asked how the smugglers could flee given the stormy seas, Marini said the migrants were being interviewed to see if the smugglers might be mingled among them.








A woman and a child rescued from the Moldovan-flagged Blue Sky M carrying hundreds of migrants arrive at the southern Italian port of Gallipoli, some 170 kilometers (108 miles) south of Bari, Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. (AP Photo/ Ivan Tortorella)
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