Photographer Alessio Paduano was embedded with the crew of the Sea-Watch 3 about 30 miles from the coast of Tripoli last week when they received a distress call from an inflatable boat with refugees on board.
Sea-Watch arrived at the scene at the same time as a Libyan patrol boat. A spokesperson for Sea-Watch told the Daily Mail that the Libyans started beating and threatening the refugees as they were drowning.
That's when Paduano started taking these harrowing photos.
Rescuers and photographers watched as refugees began falling overboard as the patrol boat tried to leave with people still clinging to its sides.
A helicopter from the Italian navy had to step in to calm the situation down.
"Nobody would have had to die today if only we had the possibility to operate reasonably in a calm environment," the Sea-Watch spokesperson told the Daily Mail.
In videos from the rescue operation, you can see and hear Libyan soldiers beat the refugees with ropes, push them from the boat, or let them hang on the outside of the ship without any rescue attempts.
At the end of the mission, there were still an unknown number of refugees on the Libyan boat — although the Sea-Watch 3 can be overheard on the radio assuring accommodation for all refugees.
This post was translated from German.
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