Lebanon

UNIFIL Maritime Task Force at the rescue as commercial ship sinks off the Lebanese coast

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Naqoura, Lebanon - The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Maritime Task Force is participating in a major search and rescue operation at sea after a Panamanian-flagged livestock carrier 'Danny F II' sank off the coast of Lebanon. The operation that commenced last evening continued through the night in difficult weather conditions and is still ongoing.

As of 15:00 hours Friday, 18 December UNIFIL Maritime Task Force ships had rescued 34 survivors and recovered the bodies of four deceased victims from the sea. Four more sailors have been rescued by other ships that responded to the location. A total of 38 survivors have reportedly been rescued so far from the people who were on board the capsized ship.

Last evening, Thursday 17 December, the Lebanese navy conveyed to UNIFIL a distress signal from the ship that had capsized about 10 nautical miles off the coast of Tripoli in northern Lebanon.

UNIFIL Maritime Task Force immediately responded to the location with three ships, the frigate 'Zeffiro' (Italy), mine hunter 'Laboe' (Germany) and supply ship 'Mosel' (Germany), that have since been engaged in the search and rescue operations in collaboration with the Lebanese Navy.

The survivors, hailing from different nationalities, are being provided immediate medical treatment on board the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force ships before being transported ashore in Lebanon.

UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano said: "This is a very tragic incident and our UNIFIL Maritime Task Force peacekeepers are doing their utmost to save the lives of the victims. We hope that our joint efforts with the Lebanese navy will help minimize the number of casualties."

As the ongoing search and rescue operations progress, further updates will be provided in due course.

The first Naval Force to be part of a UN peacekeeping mission, UNIFIL Maritime Task Force has been deployed at the request of the Lebanese Government to assist the Lebanese Navy in securing the territorial waters and to help prevent the unauthorized entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon. In addition, the Maritime Task Force has been working jointly with the Lebanese Navy to strengthen the latter's capabilities to secure its maritime borders and assume effective security control over Lebanese territorial waters.

UNIFIL Maritime Task Force has also taken part in humanitarian efforts in the past when called upon. On 11 December, a UNIFIL MTF ship rescued one crew member of a merchant ship that sank in rough waters off the southern Lebanese coast. In 2008, UNIFIL Maritime Task Force ships rescued 14 crew members of a disabled merchant vessel off Lebanon.

For further information, please contact Deputy Spokesperson Andrea Tenenti at the UNIFIL Public Information Office: Tel.: +961 1 827 068 (office); +961 70910064 (cell), Fax: +961 1 827 016, Email: tenenti@un.org