On July 22, the Aral tanker, captained by Rafig Efendiyev, an Azerbaijani national, sailed in the Mediterranean Sea under the Maltese flag and rescued 32 Syrian migrants.
The captain told Report that the rescue operation took place 70 miles southeast of the Crete island.
“It was July 22,” he said. There was a 7-8 magnitude storm in the Mediterranean from the North-West. At 13:40 Baku time, I was called by Olympia radio. I contacted the offshore ambulance service at sea. They said that a boat sent an accident signal 18 miles northwest of us, and we had to go to that area immediately. As soon as I received the news, I ordered the crew to change the course. We reached the boat, which sounded the alarm for about two hours. The Turkish flag was hung on the pirate boat called ‘Rahvan,’ and it was claimed to belong to Turkey. However, it was untrue. Most of the refugees aboard yacht were Syrians. There were also two Iranians and a Palestinian citizen among them.
“The people that we rescued did not even know how many of them there were in the boat. Some of them said there were 45, others said there were 48. I told the emergency services that there were 45 people and that we had rescued 32 people. According to the migrants, six people were rescued by an unknown helicopter. One was rescued by a German tanker and taken by a Greek chopper to the island of Crete.
“After rescuing 32 people, we conducted another hour of search and rescue operations at about 19:00 Greek time. I only found the bodies of two women; unfortunately, there were no survivals. Then I changed the course to the port of IEREPETRA on the island of Crete. At 03:00 on July 23, the migrants arrived safely on the island.”
The captain said that the refugees were supplied with hot drinks and food, and first aid was provided to those wounded. “About three hours later, at 06:00 in the morning, the coast guard of the Crete island took the migrants. Among those rescued were one woman, one 5-year-old girl, and the rest were men.”