Video: yacht rescues 11 refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean

20 October 2015 • Written by Risa Merl

A yacht sailing near the Greek Island of Kastellorizo has rescued 11 refugees, including a mother whose baby had died during the journey. The Israeli yacht, crewed by members of the Poseidon Sailing Club based in Ashod, was sailing in the Greek islands that are a few kilometres off Turkey as part of a routine navigation training. At 7:30 am on Sunday (October 18) the crew heard cries for help and spotted a teenage boy wearing a life preserver afloat in the sea.

In the below video of the yacht rescuing the refugees, you can hear a crew member saying, “you don’t need to swim, we come to you” before throwing a rope into the water to assist.

The sailing catamaran's crew pulled the boy and 10 more Syrian and Iraqi refugees out of the water. The refugees told the crew they had been floating for 12 hours before being rescued.

“We pulled him out of the water and he told us his brother was missing and probably dead,” the yacht’s captain, Shlomo Asaban, told the Ynet news website. “We gave them water and cellphones so they could contact their families.”

While the yacht’s crew was able to rescue 11 people, a six-month old baby died in the ordeal, and three bodies of a pregnant woman and two men were found later in the water by local authorities. There were another two boys from the group who were missing and presumed dead.

A sailing catamaran yacht rescues refugees in the Mediterranean

“We’re a team who’ve spent a lot of time at sea, but we’ve never come across such a difficult scene,” said one of the yacht's crew members, Gal Baruch. “The crew acted fittingly and we followed maritime law, which dictates you have to save people regardless of where they are from.”

According to reports, once the yacht made landfall in Kastellorizo the Greek authorities detained one of the surviving men who the refugees said was a trafficker.

Hundreds of migrants have died this year attempting to make the crossing over the Agean Sea from Turkey to Greece. One billionaire couple are rescuing migrants at sea, just one example of how superyachts can come to the rescue in times of need.