A baby girl was born on board an Italian navy ship, the Bettica after her mother, who is Nigerian, was rescued from a boat floating off the coast of Libya on Monday, May 4, 2015.
Parallels were drawn on Italian social media, between the fanfare over the birth of Princess Charlotte in London, and the trying circumstances under which the migrant baby was born, on a warship in the middle of the Mediterranean.
The Italian navy, released a photograph of the tiny girl swaddled in a white cloth and said both she and her mother were in good health.
In all, the Bettica rescued 654 migrants from four different boats, all of them sent from the coast of Libya by smuggling gangs, who are making millions from trafficking desperate people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
“The mother was brought on board in dramatic circumstances – her labour had already started,” the navy said in a statement.
The baby was delivered by Sara Modde, a doctor with the Order of Malta, a Catholic charity that has teams of medics on board many of the search and rescue vessels operating in the Mediterranean.
The mother and her baby were among 6,770 migrants who were rescued in the Mediterranean in the space of just three days.
Vincenzo Pascale, the captain of the Italian navy ship on which the baby was born, said: “She is a beautiful baby girl who has touched everyone on board. The mother started to have contractions as soon as she was brought aboard and gave birth after eight hours.
“We made a little crib and put it next to the mother, who was worn out by the labour,” he told Italian media.
Not all of them survived the crossing. Seven dead bodies were found aboard two large rubber dinghiespacked with migrants, while the corpses of three others were pulled from the water.
They had apparently jumped or fallen into the sea when they saw rescue vessels approach.
Smugglers had packed people into the boats so tightly that they were unable to move their legs and many were suffering from cramp, humanitarian groups said.