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Lesbos Island: MSF & Greenpeace rescue teams assist as a wooden boat carrying 85 people capsized

17 December 2015

 MSF and Greenpeace conduct joint sea operations to provide assistance at sea to boats in distress off the coast of Lesbos island in Greece.

An MSF official signals to the rescue boat.

The rescue inflatable boat arrives on the shore.

A survivor is being attended to for any medical injuries.

A little girl also rescued from the capsized boat has been exposed to the cold waters and is suffering from hyperthermia.

Amongst the survivors of the capesized boat were children. 

As a precautionary measure to prevent the survivors from hyperthermia, the survivors all received emergency thermal blankets.

An MSF medical officer holds a baby rescued from the capsized boat.

MSF and Greenpeace rescue officers offer medical assistance to rescued children.

On December 16 a boat carrying about 85 people capsized off the northern shores of Lesbos provoking the death of at least 2 people. MSF and Greenpeace participated to the rescue operations.

MSF renews its call for a safe and legal passage at the land border between Turkey and Greece and urges the Greek and EU authorities to step up search and rescue operations in the Aegean Sea. When the assistance boats arrived at the scene, the team quickly began rescuing as manypeople as possible, handing out all kinds of floating devices to help those still in the cold water.

Survivors were transferred to a Norwegian Frontex vessel that had arrived to support the rescue operation. Others were transferred to other actors operating in the area. “It was overloaded, sinking at the back, and literally tipping over onto itself due to the massive amount of passengers,” says Kim Clausen, MSF Deputy Project Coordinator. "When we arrived, there were strong winds and the waves were at least one meter high and people were already in the water. What is needed to stop these deaths is a real search and rescue operation that is actively searching for these boats before they begin to sink.”

All photos by Will Rose.