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Spanish Coast Guard Sends Cruise Ship to Rescue 68 Migrants from Atlantic

Insignia cruise ship
Insignia was divered while sailing toward Tenerife (Oceania Cruises)

Published Jun 20, 2024 4:35 PM by The Maritime Executive


Spain’s maritime rescue and safety society, Salvamento Marítimo, is congratulating Oceania Cruises’ ship the Insignia on the rescue of 68 people that were adrift in the Atlantic approximately 440 miles south of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The cruise ship was asked to divert and intervene because according to Associated Press, the migrants were “a long way out” and believed to be in danger.

The bulker Philipp Oldendorff first sighted the small boat on Wednesday reporting the situation to the authorities. The 115,000 dwt bulker was bound from Spain to Brazil when it found the small boat. They provided emergency first aid to the people while Salvamento Maritimo coordinated the rescue with the cruise ship which was sailing from Africa to the Canary Islands.

The Insignia is a smaller cruise ship owned by a division of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. At 30,000 gross tons, it has accommodations for up to 670 passengers and a crew of 400. It is registered in the Marshall Islands.

Associated Press is quoting one of the passengers aboard saying the cruise ship took about two hours to reach the small boat. Weather conditions were reported to be poor when they reached the scene but they were able to transfer 62 men, three women, and three children to the cruise ship. They also recovered three bodies but were unable to recover two other deceased individuals aboard the small boat. The Insignia reportedly put a marker aboard the small boat to help the Coast Guard locate it.

The individuals were placed in the cruise ship’s lounge and given food and medical attention. They all put on jumpsuits while the passengers were being asked if they could donate any shoes or clothing. 

After the rescue, the cruise ship reported that one of the individuals was in serious condition and required immediate medical attention. Salvamento Maritimo dispatched a helicopter but reports are that the individual expired before the teams could reach the cruise ship and the helicopter was recalled to Tenerife. 

The Insignia is now sailing to Tenerife where it is due to arrive on Friday morning. A Coast Guard vessel was dispatched to meet the cruise ship and provide additional assistance. Afterward, it will return to the location to find the small boat.

Spain’s Interior Ministry highlighted to the Associated Press the ongoing challenge of migrants attempting to reach the Canary Islands. They said more than 23,000 people have landed in 2024 after a record 55,618 migrants arrived by boat in 2023.