Five migrants in a boat left stranded in Maltese waters have been found dead, with survivors saying another seven people are missing, presumed dead.

The NGO Alarm Phone was the first to announce the tragedy, saying Malta was „responsible for the deaths and for returning the survivors to war, rape and torture“.

The International Organisation for Migration confirmed that five people were found dead aboard the boat. Survivors told the IOM that a further seven people are missing.

Sources said that the boat was the last of four that had been left floating in Malta’s search and rescue zone for days. It was intercepted by a commercial vessel on Wednesday.

This vessel then took the migrants to the west coast of Libya and handed 51 survivors as well as the bodies of the five dead people over to the Libyan coast guard, who disembarked them in the north African country.

The IOM said that survivors were taken into detention in Tripoli.

Sources said the migrants had likely died of exhaustion and dehydration after several days marooned.

The boat had been drifting in Libya’s search and rescue area for days before it made its way to Malta’s waters, and sources said it was unclear when the deaths happened.

Both Malta and Italy last week declared their ports closed to migrant disembarkation, citing the COVID-19 outbreak as their primary concern.

Allowing people to die in name of public health ‚contradictory‘ – healthcare professionals

But more than 250 healthcare professionals and students in healthcare, including more than 100 medical doctors, have signed an open letter calling for Malta’s Prime Minister to reconsider his stance.

While it acknowledges that the COVID-19 situation is serious, the letter points out that allowing people to die in the name of public health is contradictory. […]

Times of Malta | 15.04.2020

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„Five migrants found dead in boat stranded in Maltese waters“