'Your heart stops in your throat' - LE Eithne crew member on rescuing migrant children from Mediterranean sea
A crew member on the LE Eithne has said that the most striking thing about the Irish Naval Services's recent Mediterranean voyage was rescuing small children from overcrowded boats.
Lieutenant Shane Mulcahy was speaking about his experiences aboard the ship that saved a staggering total of 3,376 migrants over eight weeks.
“Your heart stops in you throat a bit because you see these small children being moved closer and closer to the edge of the boat with no life jackets on them and everybody’s distressed,” he said.
In the two months the Irish ship was at sea, it saved a staggering 3,376 migrants, including 168 children. In one 48 hour period on June 28 and 29, the ship picked up 1,240 people from eight different vessels.
Speaking on Newstalk’s The Pat Kenny Show, Lt. Mulcahy also spoke about the condition of some of migrants when the crew of the LE Eithne came across them, citing dehydration and seasickness as some of the most common problems.
“A lot of these people would have never really seen the ocean until they had arrived into Libya,” he said.
“A lot of people, they would have been distressed simply because of overcrowding on the vessel.”
The LE Eithne is on its return voyage to Ireland and is being replaced by the LE Niamh.
The UNHCR estimates that around 90,000 migrants have successfully crossed to Europe so far this year, either being smuggled or rescued by the ongoing rescue missions.