An American naval vessel on Tuesday recovered 12 bodies and rescued 21 survivors from a rubber boat that was sinking off the coast of Libya, a humanitarian group said.
A spokesman for Sea Watch, Ruben Neugebauer, said this happened after its ship was contacted by radio to help out.
He said the U.S. navy vessel Trenton called the German charity Sea Watch, which operates the only charity rescue ship currently on patrol off the Libyan coast, to alert them to the shipwreck and ask for assistance.
Neugebauer said the Dutch-flagged Sea Watch 3 ship was en route to rendezvous with the Trenton.
It was not yet known how many people were on the boat before it started sinking.
“This shows what happens when there are not enough rescue assets at sea,” Neugebauer said.
“The Aquarius rescue ship will be gone for some 10 days as it takes migrants to Valencia, Spain, after it was refused a port in Italy or Malta.
“This shipwreck shows that we are needed,” he added, saying the American vessel probably called Sea Watch because “there’s just nobody else out here. We’re the only asset at the moment.”
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Navy.