Wednesday, June 11, 2008
A US Navy destroyer operating between Somalia and Yemen has rescued a boat in distress which was loaded with about 70 people. The Navy Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, says the USS Russell responded to a distress call on Sunday from the boat that had been adrift for two days after experiencing engine problems."There were approximately 70 personnel on board the vessel, some of whom were in need of immediate medical attention," a statement said. The statement adds that the boat and passengers were being towed to Somalia to be turned over to the authorities. The Navy has not identified the people on board, but similar journeys are frequently made by desperate African migrants using small poorly-equipped vessels.
USS Russell (DDG 59)The United Nations has said more than 1,400 clandestine immigrants died trying to cross from Africa in 2007, while more than 28,300 managed to reach the Yemeni coast. The crossing takes two days at best and is made especially dangerous by shark-infested waters, strong currents and inhumane conditions on poorly maintained vessels open to the elements.