Erasmusgracht rescues refugees
The Erasmusgracht was en route from Turkey to Poland when in the afternoon of December 5th captain Joop van Zadel received a call from the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) Rome requesting him to proceed to the position of a vessel in distress.
Two and a half hours later, the Erasmusgracht arrived at the scene. For several days, the refugees had floated on a ship of sixty meter long, about 150/200 miles south of Italy in the Ionian Sea. Their ship had no operating engine and the operating crew of the ship had already taken off.
The Erasmusgracht took all persons safely onboard. The refugees were mostly young men, women and children from Syria. On Friday evening four paramedics of the Iceland Coastguard also came on board to assist in taking care of the refugees of which some were suffering from dehydration. On Saturday, the Italian Coastguard appointed Catania as the port of call to disembark all refugees.
At 18h30, December 6th, the disembarkation of all refugees started. In a combined operation of the Red Cross organization and the crew of the Eramusgracht, 393 persons were safely put ashore in Sicily.
On Sunday morning December 7th the Erasmusgracht continued its journey to Poland.