Pope Prays As Rescue Workers Report 130 Migrant Deaths At Sea

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) – Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for those who looked the other way after at least 130 migrants fleeing war, persecution and poverty perished in the Mediterranean and aid workers accused states of not responding to distress calls.

Francis said, “now is the time for shame,” and added: “Let us also pray for those who can help but who prefer to look the other way.”

The pontiff spoke after another distress call at the Ocean Viking, the search and rescue ship of French charity SOS Mediterranee.

The Ocean Viking and three merchant vessels searched in rough seas with up to 6-meter high waves for migrant boats in international waters.

They hoped to find survivors northeast of the Libyan city of Tripoli. Libya, divided by civil conflict, is a major route for migrants seeking to reach Europe.

But the rescue vessels arrived too late. After searching the Mediterranean, they found ten bodies floating near a capsized rubber boat on Thursday.


That boat alone had some 130 people on board. Men, women, and children. Rescue workers said another wooden boat was still missing with about 40 migrants aboard.

“This is Ocean Viking, Ocean Viking, do you hear me?” asked the ship’s Search and Rescue Coordinator Luisa Albera through a radio transmitter. There was no answer, footage seen by Worthy News showed.

She complained that no state-led organization supported the recent rescue operations. “There was no help at all” from the Libyan Coast Guard or any other government organizations, Albera noted.

European border agency Frontex reportedly sent just one surveillance plane a long seven hours after the first distress call. Too late to save lives.

“There was no chance to find survivors after so many hours and the weather conditions,” an emotional Albera recalled.


“And we stayed on the scene till dark to wait for the Libyan petrol vessel to come. But it never came. And I decided to keep patrolling because we can save other lives,” she stressed.

Back at the Vatican, “I confess to you that I am very pained over yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean,” Francis told hundreds of people in St. Peter’s Square at his weekly blessing.

“They are people. They are human lives who for two entire days begged in vain for help, a help that never arrived. Brothers and sisters, let us all question ourselves over this, yet another tragedy. Now is the time for shame,” he added.

There are fears that many more migrants will perish at sea. The U.N. International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that the latest reported drownings brought the death toll for the central Mediterranean to nearly 500 people this year.

That is more than triple the reported tally for the same period of 2020. In a report at the end of March, the IOM said that last year more than 2,200 people perished at sea.

But rescue officials warn that the actual toll is probably far higher. Aid groups have reported at least five “invisible shipwrecks” that were never confirmed as they left no survivors.

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