Mediterranean migrants: MSF rescues 732 people in one day

1 Jul 2015
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More than 700 people have been rescued by a Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) search and rescue ship in one day. 

The Bourbon Argos, deployed by MSF, received 732 people on 19 June from multiple rescues in the search and rescue zone of the Mediterranean, north of Libya.

It is the greatest number of people the ship has carried since MSF began its search and rescue mission in May. 


MSF staff hail the first boat and establish what languages the people speak to begin communicating. In this case, many speak Eritrean.

This small wooden fishing boat was dangerously overcrowded with 345 people, mostly Eritreans, before the Bourbon Argos came to their rescue.

MSF doctor Anne Hoekstra welcomes a man onto our rescue ship.

A man needing urgent medical attention was lifted onto the Bourbon Argos by crane.

Men resting on the deck of the Bourbon Argos wave to the camera after being rescued.

MSF medical logistician Marco Gaudesi (right) and a crew member of the Bourbon Argos prepare to load life vests onto a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB), with another of our rescue ships, Dignity I, in the background.

A RHIB transfers people to the Bourbon Argos from Dignity I. In total, 299 people were transferred. 

The Bourbon Argos carried 732 people from the search and rescue zone of the Mediterranean to Crotone, Italy, from 19 to 21 June 2015. It was the largest number of people the ship had carried since MSF began its search and rescue mission in May 2015.

The wet footprints of people rescued by MSF on June 19, 2015.

More on the rescue

The ship rescued the first 345 people, predominantly Eritreans, from a dangerously overcrowded wooden fishing boat around noon. Hours later, the Bourbon Argos received 88 people who were transferred from a German warship.

Finally, the Bourbon Argos received 299 people from the Dignity 1, another ship recently deployed by MSF. 

In addition to Eritreans, the countries of origin of the 732 people include Nigeria, Syria, Morocco, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Bangladesh, Gabon, Senegal and Mali. Some people reported that they had been living most recently in Libya, before violence caused them to leave. 

Our medical team onboard the Bourbon Argos has observed some serious wounds, including a gunshot wound and a stab wound, minor injuries, dehydration from the sea journey and several pregnancies.

Find out more about our work in the Mediterranean