Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dutch skipper; hero on the Adriadic sea

The story of the skipper of Dutch freighter Momentum Scan who responded to a distress signal in the Adriatic Sea at the weekend and found himself in the middle of a life-and-death refugee drama.
Captain Martin Remeeus tells: “We got the shock of our lives. Instead of a handful of fishermen we saw hundreds of people in complete panic aboard a sinking ship.”
He describes the rescue operation by  his mainly Filipino crew as “an act of heroism with a bitter aftertaste”. They managed to save 241 Afghan migrants from rough seas off the Greek island of Corfu but also saw how others did not survive the ordeal “Women and children were disappearing under the waves before my eyes ... it was intensely emotional.”
Reports are saying that “over twenty people drowned or were crushed between the two vessels”. The migrants had been left to their fate by Turkish people smugglers, who made their escape in a motor boat when the situation turned ugly.
Captain Remeeus tells modestly “I think we responded with the kind of professionalism you would expect under the circumstances” and expresses his concern for his crew “They have witnessed terrible scenes, the kind you don’t forget easily.” He hopes most of them will use their upcoming leave to “work through the experience together.”
Turkish people smugglers are mainly active over land managing dropping daily ca. 300 people over the border with Greece.

Day Opening - January 18

Winter in Istanbul by Karli Javaharian