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German rescue ship prevented from leaving Italy’s harbor due to ‘irregularities’

Authorities in Italy have forbidden the German rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 from leaving the harbour where it is docked, said the Italian Coast Guard and the Interior Ministry.

The German rescue ship is operated by a German charity that last month rescued more than 200 people stranded at sea.

The ship has been docked in the Sicilian port of Porto Emedocle and has been under quarantine after a transfer of more than 200 rescued migrants to the Moby Zaza ferry.

When questioned the coast guard said the ship has several irregularities of technical and operational nature which were at risk of compromising the safety of the crew and the migrants who had been or could be rescued.

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Spokesman Ruber Neugebauer told the epd that the issues at fault are totally cynical and that the so-called technical problems found on board the ship were a cover to stop the ship from setting sail.

The crew were not informed about which specific technical failures were uncovered during the inspection and added that the organization has yet to have an incident in its five years of operations.

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He also noted that the Sea-Watch 3 is the only ship operating in the Mediterranean at the moment, leaving many migrants and asylum-seekers vulnerable.

According to news agency dpa, Italian Coast Guard officials said the rescue vessel will remain under “administrative seizure” until the irregularities are checked and Germany would have to intervene to ensure the ship’s compliance. 

The Sea-Watch 3 was also impounded by Italian prosecutors in May last year for breaching immigration rules despite government attempts to block the ship from reaching an Italian port.

Source: Sea watch