Navy: Survivors of boat off Somalia that capsized during rescue effort moved to other US ship

By Pauline Jelinek, AP
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Survivors of capsized boat put on other US ship

WASHINGTON — Survivors of a ship that capsized off the coast of Somalia during a U.S. rescue effort have been moved to a second U.S. ship while officials determine where to take them.

The 62 survivors were transferred from the USS Winston S. Churchill warship Wednesday morning to the amphibious docking ship USS Pearl Harbor, Lt. John Fage, a spokesman for the 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said. Fage had earlier reported the number to be 61, and later corrected the figure.

The survivors were among more than 80 Somalis and Ethiopians aboard a boat that developed engine trouble Monday and was adrift in the Gulf of Aden. The Churchill, which was on patrol as part of a multinational anti-piracy task force, responded by sending food and water to the stranded passengers. As the aid was being delivered, passengers rushed to one side of the board and it overturned, throwing all passengers overboard.

Thirteen died and eight are missing at sea, Fage said.

The Navy was expected to review the incident to determine whether proper procedures were followed.

It’s unclear where the survivors want to go. Thousands of Ethiopians and Somalis have fled to Yemen, in part to escape increasing violence.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 74,000 Africans, mainly from Ethiopia and Somalia fled to Yemen as refugees in 2009.

The region also is known as a haven for pirates. Earlier this month, Marine commandos stormed a pirate-held cargo ship off the Somali coast, taking nine prisoners without firing a shot. It was the first time the international task force has launched a boarding raid.

(This version corrects the number of survivors to 62.)

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