Dozens saved from sinking boat

A survivor of a boat carrying migrants that sunk in the Mediterranean during the night of May 9 and 10, rests at a shelter in the Tunisian coastal city of Zarzis on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 12 May 2019

Dozens saved from sinking boat

  • The survivors said they spent eight hours trapped in the cold sea before they were spotted by the fishermen who alerted the Tunisian coast guard, Slim said
  • Nearly 70 migrants in Mediterranean Sea — mostly Bangladeshis — died on Thursday after their boat capsized

VALLETTA, MALTA, TUNIS: A Maltese patrol boat rescued a group of 85 migrants late on Friday night and brought them to Malta on Saturday morning.
The migrants, believed to be from North and East Africa, were in a sinking wooden boat, the army said.
Earlier, around 70 migrants — most of them from Bangladesh — died after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea after it left Libya for Italy, the Tunisian Red Crescent said on Saturday.
Survivors told the Red Crescent the tragedy unfolded after some people who had left Zuwara on the northwestern Libyan coast late Thursday on a large boat were transferred to a smaller one that sank off Tunisia.
“The migrants were transferred into a smaller inflatable boat which was overloaded, and 10 minutes later it sank,” Mongi Slim, a Red Crescent official in the southern Tunisian town of Zarzis, told AFP.
Tunisian fishermen rescued some of them and brought them to shore in Zarzis.
The survivors said they spent eight hours trapped in the cold sea before they were spotted by the fishermen who alerted the Tunisian coast guard, Slim said.
The bodies of three people were plucked out of the waters on Friday, the Tunisian Defense Ministry said.
Survivors said the boat was heading to Italy and had on board only men, 51 from Bangladesh, as well as three Egyptians, several Moroccans, Chadians and other Africans. Fourteen Bangladeshi nationals, including a minor, were among the survivors, said the Red Crescent.
“If the Tunisian fishermen hadn’t seen them (the migrants), there wouldn’t have been any survivors and we would have never known about this” boat sinking, said Slim.
Charity ships have plied the Mediterranean Sea to rescue migrants in large numbers but the number of rescue operations have dwindled as these vessels have been condemned, namely from the populist Italian government, over their actions.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has imposed a “closed ports” policy, refusing to allow migrants rescued at sea to enter his country.
On Friday, however, more than 60 migrants disembarked in Italy after two boats which had left Libya faced difficulties at sea and needed assistance.
The UN agency for refugees, the UNHCR, called for stepped up search and rescue operations to avoid future tragedies in the Mediterranean, which it calls the “world’s deadliest sea crossing.”
“Across the region we need to strengthen the capacity of search and rescue operations,” said Vincent Cochetel, the agency’s special envoy for the Mediterranean.
“If we don’t act now, we’re almost certain to see more tragic events in the coming weeks and months,” he warned.
According to the UNHCR, the journey across the Mediterranean “is becoming increasingly fatal for those who risk it.”
It said: “In the first four months of this year, one person has died (crossing the Mediterranean) for every three that have reached European shores, after departing from Libya.”
Malta has spearheaded EU efforts to share migrants rescued in the central Mediterranean among several member states after rescue ships were refused entry by Italy.
The EU’s commissioner responsible for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, visited Malta on Tuesday and praised the island for its response to irregular migration across the Mediterranean.
“Without a doubt, Malta is facing great migration challenges compared to the size of the population,” Avramopoulos said.
“Overall, at the EU level we have returned to pre-crisis levels of irregular arrivals, but in Malta arrivals increased in 2018 due to search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean and the volatile and precarious situation in Libya.”
Malta took in 108 migrants in March after its soldiers stormed a small tanker which authorities say had been hijacked by three teenagers, one from Ivory Coast and two from Guinea, who tried to force the boat to take them to Malta and not back to Libya after it had rescued them and other migrants.
The three are now in a Maltese juvenile jail awaiting trial. They have pleaded not guilty.
Another group of 87 migrants was also rescued by a Maltese patrol boat and brought to Malta later that month.


Scientists discover big storms can create ‘stormquakes’

Updated 17 October 2019

Scientists discover big storms can create ‘stormquakes’

  • Shaking of sea floor during hurricanes and nor’easters can rumble like a magnitude 3.5 earthquake and can last for days
  • But a stormquake is more an oddity than something that can hurt you, says seismologist
WASHINGTON: Scientists have discovered a mash-up of two feared disasters — hurricanes and earthquakes — and they’re calling them “stormquakes.”
The shaking of the sea floor during hurricanes and nor’easters can rumble like a magnitude 3.5 earthquake and can last for days, according to a study in this week’s journal Geophysical Research Letters. The quakes are fairly common, but they weren’t noticed before because they were considered seismic background noise.
A stormquake is more an oddity than something that can hurt you, because no one is standing on the sea floor during a hurricane, said Wenyuan Fan, a Florida State University seismologist who was the study’s lead author.
The combination of two frightening natural phenomena might bring to mind “Sharknado ,” but stormquakes are real and not dangerous.
“This is the last thing you need to worry about,” Fan told The Associated Press.
Storms trigger giant waves in the sea, which cause another type of wave. These secondary waves then interact with the seafloor — but only in certain places — and that causes the shaking, Fan said. It only happens in places where there’s a large continental shelf and shallow flat land.
Fan’s team found 14,077 stormquakes between September 2006 and February 2015 in the Gulf of Mexico and off Florida, New England, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador and British Columbia. A special type of military sensor is needed to spot them, Fan said.
Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Hurricane Irene in 2011 set off lots of stormquakes, the study said.
The shaking is a type that creates a wave that seismologists don’t normally look for when monitoring earthquakes, so that’s why these have gone unnoticed until now, Fan said.
Ocean-generated seismic waves show up on US Geological Survey instruments, “but in our mission of looking for earthquakes these waves are considered background noise,” USGS seismologist Paul Earle said.pport from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.