Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • Police arrest S. Korea ferry captain for negligence

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Video: Tensions remain high in Mariupol despite Geneva deal

    Read more

  • In Prijedor, survivors fight to keep memory alive

    Read more

  • Deadly avalanche strikes Everest in worst-ever disaster

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Mob launches deadly attack on UN shelter for S. Sudan civilians

    Read more

  • Eurostar train mishap causes 'severe' delays

    Read more

  • Chelsea Clinton announces she's pregnant

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

France

Navy denies French warship left African migrants to die

©

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-05-10

The French navy and NATO have denied allegations in the UK’s Guardian newspaper that the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier (pictured) fatally ignored distress calls from a migrant boat in the Mediterranean.

The French Navy rebuffed Monday a report in the UK’s Guardian newspaper that the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle let 72 migrants starve in the Mediterranean.

"If the sailors had seen a boat in distress, they would have obviously helped it," French navy spokesman Thierry Burkhard said Monday.

According to the article published on Sunday, the aircraft carrier ignored the African migrants' calls for help, causing the deaths of 61 aboard the tragedy-struck ship.

One survivor, Abu Kurke, interviewed by the British daily declared that around March 29 or 30, the migrants’ boat floated near an aircraft carrier that could not have missed their presence.

“Extensive inquiries” identified that the carrier was “likely to have been the French ship Charles de Gaulle,” the Guardian wrote, without offering further details .

However, France's Burkhard stated, “The Charles de Gaulle was never in contact with the boat, because it was never located in that area."

A NATO spokeswoman, Carmen Romero, also dismissed allegations that a NATO military ship had been in contact with the refugees. “A single aircraft carrier was under NATO command at that time, the Italian ship Garibaldi, and it was more than 100 nautical miles away,” she said. “Therefore, any statement that a NATO aircraft carrier spotted then ignored the distressed vessel is false.”

The Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier operates under the command of the French navy. Only its jets, once called into mission, come under the command of NATO.

Drifting for 16 days

"We'd finished the oil, we'd finished the food and water, we'd finished everything," said Abu Kurke, the 24-year-old Eritrean who survived the ordeal. The man described a nightmarish voyage on a ship that was allowed to drift at sea for 16 days.

According to the Guardian’s account, the ship sailed off from Tripoli on March 25 with 72 passengers, including women and children, aboard. The boat was to transport the African migrants to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Shortly after setting sail the captain realised the ship was leaking fuel. The crew used a satellite phone to call a catholic priest in Rome before the batteries ran out. The priest alerted Italian authorities of the ship’s problem.

Then came the alleged encounter with the NATO aircraft carrier that filled the distressed passengers with hope, then horror. Abu Kurke said the ship drifted for ten days, the refugees succumbing to thirst and hunger one by one.

"We saved one bottle of water for the two babies, and kept feeding them even after their parents had passed," Kurke told the Guardian, "but after two days, the babies died too, because they were so small."

On April 10, the vessel finally landed on a beach in eastern Libya, near the city of Misrata. Security forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi detained the survivors and held them captive for four days before releasing them, according to the Guardian. Only nine of them survived the detention.

Date created : 2011-05-09

  • ITALY

    Lampedusa, a reluctant outpost in the storm

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)