Three East Midlands Men On Board Stranded Migrant Ship
30 January 2019, 07:09 | Updated: 30 January 2019, 07:12
The European human rights court has told Italy to provide food, water and medical care to the ship stranded off Sicily containing 47 migrants and four British rescuers.
Sea-Watch 3 is anchored off the coast of Syracuse and its crew is unable to disembark the boys and men they rescued from the Mediterranean because of Italy's anti-migrant policy.
The Foreign Office was closely monitoring the situation, as crew said they were also prevented from leaving local waters while under investigation for allegedly assisting illegal immigration.
The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday said the Italian government must provide the 15 unaccompanied minors on board with adequate legal assistance.
It must also "take all necessary measures, as soon as possible, to provide all the applicants with adequate medical care, food, water and basic supplies as necessary", the court said.
The interim ruling did not, however, grant the captain's request to let the migrants disembark.
The four British crew members on board called for Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to intervene to help free them and their passengers.
On Tuesday, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We continue to monitor the situation on board Sea-Watch 3 closely. We are seeking further information on the British nationals affected."
The migrants were rescued from a deflating vessel on January 19.
Amid storms, they were allowed to shelter offshore from Syracuse, Sicily.
Right-wing Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini accused the crew of criminality, and his ministry reportedly said it is gathering information to press charges for "favouring illegal immigration".
Speaking from the ship, father-of-two Brendan Woodhouse, who is from near Matlock in Derbyshire, said they were ordered not to leave local waters.
The 42-year-old firefighter said: "We are being threatened with a criminal investigation for saving people's lives at sea.
"We would ask Jeremy Hunt to apply some pressure on the Italian authorities to accept 47 people on board and allow the crew to leave."
Kim Heaton-Heather, 37, originally from Brighton, is heading the mission.
Also on board are chief engineer Jon Stone, a 32-year-old former Navy serviceman from Lincoln, and bosun Dan Bebawi, 39, formerly a car mechanic in Nottingham.
The Foreign Office said it is tackling "irregular migration" with a "whole of route" approach that emphasises interventions at every stage of their journeys.