It was around midnight thirty that the Maritime Rescue and Co-ordination Centre, the MRCC, in Ostend (West Flanders) was alerted to the presence of seven migrants in distress in a rubber dinghy floating on the North Sea. The dinghy was drifting twenty kilometres off Ostend when the crew of a larger vessel passing by enquired whether the migrants were in distress. The MRCC immediately decided to deploy two rescue vessels, a helicopter equipped with an infrared camera and a doctor.
When the rescue party arrived all migrants had been taken on board the larger vessel.
“We were swiftly able to evaluate the situation and could confirm that nobody was still in the water. The seven migrants were suffering from hypothermia and were handed thermal blankets” says Dries Boodts of the MRCC.
Why the migrants were in distress is not entirely clear.