Matlock firefighter among British rescuers stranded near Sicily

Brendan Woodhouse. Picture posted on Sea-Watch 3 Facebook page.
Brendan Woodhouse. Picture posted on Sea-Watch 3 Facebook page.

A Matlock man is among four British rescuers stranded near Sicily over allegations they assisted illegal migration.

Brendan Woodhouse, 42, a dad-of-two, along with three others members of the Sea-Watch 3 crew, apparently rescued 47 men and boys from an inflatable vessel in the Mediterranean when storms struck on January 19.

But the Italian minister, Matteo Salvini, is allegedly refusing to allow the crew and the migrants to leave the boat.

Mr Salvini has refused to let private rescue boats enter Italian ports, arguing they encourage human traffickers on the Mediterranean, according to the BBC.

The Sea-Watch 3 crew is now urging Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to intervene.

“We are being threatened with a criminal investigation for saving people’s lives at sea,” Brendan, a firefighter in Nottinghamshire, told the BBC.

“We are not allowed to land, nor are we allowed to leave, nor is the ship allowed to sail away.”

Posting on the Sea-Watch 3 Facebook, Brendan, describing those they had helped to rescue, wrote: “I’ve spent hours talking to them about their experiences, and I’m staggered by their humanity, by their struggle. But despite everything that they have faced, they breathe empathy with one another. They are kind and gentle to each other. They are supportive of us as a crew and feel a sense of mutual responsibility for all of us on the ship. I am awestruck by their resolve.”

Another member of the crew said the situation was becoming ‘dire’.

Brendan had been due to fly back to the UK on Monday to go back to work.

The Foreign Office is yet to comment.