Thu. Jan 27th, 2022

Rescue workers say 65-70 people were on a Shell oil rig where they “held out all night”.

Up to 70 migrants wishing to cross the Mediterranean have taken refuge on an oil platform before being handed over to Tunisian authorities, energy giant Shell and a rescue organization said.

The rescue ship Louise Michel announced in a statement on Tuesday that it had rescued 31 people from a driftwood boat in bad weather while “another 65-70 people stayed out all night on the Shell oil platform” on which they climbed.

Shell in Tunisia confirmed that an unspecified number of migrants reached its Miskar platform, located about 120 km (75 miles) off the coast of Tunisia, on Monday at 20:00 Tunis time (19:00 GMT).

“The migrants were assisted and provided with water, food and dry clothes,” the company said, adding that it had notified the Tunisian authorities.

It added: “The migrants have since been safely transferred to the Tunisian naval vessel on 4 January 2022 around 14:00 Tunis time.”

The Louise Michel is a former 30-foot (98-foot) French naval vessel decorated by the elusive British artist Banksy, one of its sponsors.

It is one of several rescue ships operating in the Mediterranean, as tens of thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe every year, often in leaky and overcrowded boats.

This is not uncommon for some of those stranded seeking refuge on foreign oil platforms, although operators warn it could be dangerous.

More than 115,000 people arrived by sea in Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta last year, while about 1,800 died or went missing, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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