We were in our apartment last night, just after 8pm, talking with friends when Florio asked, “did you hear that loud bang?”. It’s firework season again, here in Malta – i.e. loud bangs are all too frequent! – so we didn’t think too much about it, until we heard the wailing of multiple sirens, racing around the bay. The balcony of the Barracuda Restaurant, opposite our apartment across Balluta Bay, where eight diners were seated for dinner (according to reports in the Times of Malta), had collapsed onto the roof of Piccolo Padre Restaurant’s terrace, below – which, very fortunately, was empty of diners – launching the people onto the rocks and into water below. In fact, we had dined there with friends just last week and kicked ourselves for not having booked a terrace table.
We watched as boat rescue services made a rapid dash to the scene, where we could hear a woman moaning and crying out – from what we could make out, across the darkened bay (with the aid of binoculars and a zoom lens), was the rescue team in the water, aiding the injured; watched over by hundreds of onlookers, no doubt equally as shocked as we were, who had gathered on the promenade above.
We also watched the news unfold, online, in the Times of Malta, thankful to hear that ‘no one had been seriously hurt‘. However, catching up on the news this morning in TofM, sadly, it seems that one woman is in a ‘critical condition‘ and a man has ‘serious injuries‘.
Sending healing thoughts and best wishes to them and their families.
‘In the fetid bowels the last of an estimated 200 people that were below deck on a fishing boat carrying 416, wait for the rescue team to evacuate them. Many of them were Bangladeshis, who had lived in Libya as skilled guest workers until the security situation made it untenable to remain, forcing them to take the only route possible where already over 1800 had died in the past 6 months in hopes of getting to safety.’ JASON FLORIO
Recently published, along with exclusive black and white portraits of rescued migrants and refugees, a 35-page feature, in VQR – Virginia Quarterly Review – Winter 2016 edition. See more of Florio’s images and read the full feature here.
Another taster of some of the remarkable work by MOAS‘ Phoenix crew (and various documentarians – through video and photography – including Jason Florio) – rescuing people in distress, from the Mediterranean Sea, as they endeavour to make the treacherous crossing, from Libya to Italy, on seriously overloaded fishing boats and dinghy’s,