SPAIN is facing heavy criticism after 61 African migrants, including two babies, died of thirst and starvation while adrift in the Mediterranean.
A nine-month investigation revealed that a catalogue of failures involving Spain, Italy and NATO, had led to a tragedy that ‘could have been avoided’.
It found that distress calls went unanswered for days, despite ships including a Spanish frigate, Mendez Nunez, being in the immediate vicinity.
The Council of Europe report highlights errors by military and commercial vessels sailing nearby, plus ambiguity in the coastguards’ distress calls.
It also claims there was confusion about which authorities were responsible for mounting a rescue.
“Many opportunities for saving the lives of the persons on board the boat were lost,” the report says.
It adds that those who died ‘could have been rescued if all those involved had complied with their obligations’.
In a letter to the inquiry, Spain’s defence ministry claimed the Mendez Nunez had not received any communication about the migrant boat, contradicting Nato’s claims.