11 Dec. 2017
Mediterranean Sea, Mid-Sea
Migrants try to stay afloat after falling off their rubber dinghy during a rescue operation by the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) ship in the central Mediterranean in international waters some 15 nautical miles off the coast of Zawiya in Libya, April 14, 2017. All 134 sub-Saharan migrants survived and were rescued by MOAS. Darrin Zammit Lupi: "I spent five weeks with the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) on their ship, Phoenix, covering search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. At the start of the Easter weekend we were on a routine rescue around 15 nautical miles off the Libyan coast. I was on the MOAS fast rubber boat with crew members handing out life jackets to a group of 134 Sub-Saharan migrants on a flimsy dinghy before we would transfer them to the Phoenix. I had one camera up to my eye to shoot some wide angle frames. Suddenly, one migrant balancing on the rim of a dinghy slipped sideways and like dominos several of his colleagues lost their balance and fell into the sea. I captured the whole sequence by keeping my finger on the shutter button. It was chaos. I kept shooting as the rescuers leapt into action, helping several of the migrants pull themselves onto our boat. I was grabbing hold of people with one hand and shooting with the other. Then, through my viewfinder, a few metres away, I noticed one man struggling more than the others, stretching out his arm towards us. I screamed to alert our specialist rescue swimmer that one man was going under. He reacted instantly, jumped in, and pulled the man to safety. Afterwards, I did a lot of soul searching. Should I have put down my cameras altogether and just grabbed hold of whoever I could? That evening I discussed it with the rescuers, who felt I'd done the right thing. Their job was to rescue lives. Mine was to document the harsh reality of what's happening. Everyone survived that day." REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File photo SEARCH "POY STORY" FOR THIS STORY.