A vessel with around 400 migrants and refugees onboard is adrift between Italy and Malta as it awaits rescue from Italian coastguard, according to sea rescue support service Alarm Phone.
People onboard the vessel told Alarm Phone in a distress call on Sunday that the boat had been adrift for two days as it had taken on water and was without a captain, the organisation said.
The boat has now reached the search and rescue area (SAR) between Italy and Malta, and Italian coastguard have informed us that they are sending a military ship to rescue the people onboard,” Britta Rabe, a spokesperson for Alarm Phone, told Al Jazeera on Monday.
“A merchant ship approached the boat and refuelled it but was asked by Maltese authorities not to conduct a rescue.”
The vessel departed Tobruk in eastern Libya on Wednesday with around 400 people, including pregnant women and children, onboard.
“People are upset and crying for help because there is water inside their boat now,” Rabe said, adding that Italian coastguard workers have confirmed their SAR vessel Dicotti has left Sicily and is on its way to conduct the rescue.
Earlier, search and rescue service Sea-Watch International said it had located the boat with one of its planes.