Celebrity Beyond cruise ship takes part in rescue operation for Greek migrant tragedy

   June 20, 2023 ,   Accidents

A tragic accident occurred in the Mediterranean where a fishing boat from Tobruk (Libya) carrying ~80 migrants sunk. Unfortunately, the overloaded vessel sank off mainland Greece, resulting in the loss of numerous lives and it is anticipated that more fatalities will be confirmed.

At the time of the accident, the Celebrity Beyond cruise ship was en route to Naples with ~3000 passengers and 1500 crew. Since the ship's location coincided with the site of the sinking, the Captain made the decision to divert the course and provide assistance in the rescue operation.

In total, 104 male migrants were rescued from the water by various responding vessels and transported to Kalamata. Although women and children were also present on the boat, they had been confined below deck. The Hellenic Coast Guard confirmed that search and retrieval efforts would continue until Thursday, June 15th.

On Wednesday morning, cruise passengers witnessed helicopters overhead and observed a cluster of ships to their starboard side. Celebrity Beyond came to a standstill, as their emergency rescue boat was dispatched to aid in the rescue and recovery operations.

The exact number of individuals aboard the sinking boat remains unclear, but survivors claim that up to 750 migrants could have been on board. Their intended destination was Italy.

The distress call was first received via radio on Tuesday afternoon. According to reports, the boat's Captain abandoned it ~3 hours after the initial distress call. A merchant's vessel provided water to the migrants at ~8 PM on Tuesday evening.

Refugees from Egypt, Syria, and Pakistan were among those affected. The sinking took place ~80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Pylos. The Greek government has declared three days of national mourning, while the Greek Coast Guard offered assistance to the vessel, which the migrants declined.

Tragically, nearly 1000 refugees have lost their lives in the Mediterranean waters this year, according to the UN. The number of undocumented refugees from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa seeking entry into EU countries has seen a significant increase in 2023. Figures from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) indicate that between January and March, ~36000 migrants arrived in Europe's Mediterranean region, almost twice the number compared to the same period in 2022.

For more Celebrity Beyond incidents and accidents see the ship's CruiseMinus page.