Box ship and migrant vessel narrowly avoid collision off Gibraltar

Still from video showing the near-collision between a cargo ship and migrant vessel. Credit: Spanish Civil Guard

Spain’s Civil Guard – the country’s national police force – released a video on Friday 25, January that appears to show one of its helicopters intervening to prevent a large container ship colliding with a migrant vessel.

According to the video, there were 11 people onboard the small boat when the box ship passed it by a matter of metres. The incident took place in the waters off Gibraltar, an area known for large numbers of attempted migrant crossings from North Africa.

The United Nations’ Refugee Agency has estimated that 2,275 people died attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea last year. In the first half of 2018, more migrants arrived in Greece than Spain or Italy.

However, the Agency now says that Spain is the primary entry point to European shores, with more people than ever attempting the dangerous crossing across the Western Mediterranean. UN data shows that arrivals in Spain were up 131% year-on-year to 65,400 in 2018.

The situation has been exacerbated in part by the refusal of other EU nations, including Italy and Malta, to let migrant aid vessels dock in their ports.

The Spanish Civil Guard reported that the 11 migrants in its video were subsequently rescued and brought ashore at the Port of Algeciras.