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Order of Malta’s Italian Emergency Corps rescue boat people off Lampedusa

But the nightmare continues

Lampedusa - Order of Malta Italian Emergency Corps (CISOM) tell their story

Lampedusa – Order of Malta Italian Emergency Corps (CISOM) tell their story Lampedusa, 21 April 2015

Doctor Giuseppe Pomilla of the Order of Malta’s Italian Emergency Corps (CISOM) described the three hours he searched for the living among hundreds of dead floating corpses on Sunday night: ‘It was like a nightmare. It was a cemetery. There were bodies everywhere you looked.

‘At first it seemed there was no one alive. It was 1am and the sea was black. With my torch I could see only two or three metres ahead of the dinghy. But it was easy to see if people were dead because when you die of asphyxia your eyes go red.

‘Everywhere was these red eyes, all young men. Most were in T-shirts and normal clothes but some were naked. Maybe the current washed their clothes away.’

Nurse Enrico Vitiello, part of the Order of Malta emergency team, cared for those who survived this nightmare.

The Order of Malta has been working with the Italian Coastguard since 2008, giving medical aid to the stream of boat people. That stream has now become a torrent.

Photo: Hannah Roberts Daily Mail

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The mission of the Order of Malta is inspired by its tradition of ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum', to assist the poor and the sick, and bear witness to the Christian faith.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law. The Order - which is based in Rome, in via Condotti - has its own Government, an independent magistracy, and bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 countries.


The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1048, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature.