An Ethiopian man has described the horror of being the only survivor from a boat full of migrants who ran out of food, water and fuel in the middle of the Mediterranean.
Fifteen migrants were in the rubber dinghy when it set out from the Libyan coast but one by one they died, including a woman who was pregnant, said Mohammed Adam Oga.
He was finally rescued by a Maltese armed forces helicopter after 11 days.
Malta released a shocking photo of him in the dinghy, collapsed over the body of a dead migrant.
"There were 15 of us on the boat and I am the only one alive," he told the Malta Times from his hospital bed in Msida, Malta, where he is on a drip and being treated for extreme dehydration.
“We had no food, no water, no fuel. We stayed 11 days in the sea. We started drinking sea water. After five days, two people died. Then every day, two people died.
“They died in the boat. It was sunny, hot. No food and no water.”
The migrants, who were from Ghana, Somalia and Ethiopia, spotted “many boats”, but none stopped. “We were waving and they were just passing,” he said.
The bodies of the migrants who died began to decompose in the summer heat and were pushed overboard.
The small dinghy was eventually spotted by a plane operated by Frontex, the EU border force, which alerted the Maltese authorities.
Malta sent a military helicopter on Monday which deployed two rescue swimmers.
They realised that 38-year-old Mr Oga was alive, although in a critical condition, and winched him up into the helicopter in a rescue basket. They also found the dead body on board.
The dramatic case was confirmed by Michael Farrugia, Malta’s home affairs minister, who wrote on Twitter: “Malta has just rescued one lone survivor in critical condition from a dinghy. Found lying over the corpse of another migrant. This is what our armed forces do every day. We cannot do this alone.”
Malta has clashed repeatedly with neighbouring Italy over who has responsibility for the rescue of migrants at sea.
Italy has taken a particularly hard line in the last year, after Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and head of the hard-Right League party, closed Italian ports to NGO rescue ships.
Since then a few have been allowed to disembark their rescued migrants but only after other EU countries have promised Italy that they will accept the asylum seekers, as happened in the latest case this week.
Mr Oga said he was a member of the Oromo Liberation Front, which was established in the 1970s to campaign for self-determination for the Oromo people and the Oromia region of Ethiopia.
It is banned by the Ethiopian government and Mr Oga fled the country 15 years ago, living in Eritrea and Sudan.
He paid a Libyan smuggler $700 for the crossing to Europe, hoping to reach Malta. He hopes to eventually reach Britain, saying he can speak a few words of English.
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