'Tell them what happened': Rescue on the high seas

[Nora Adin Fares/Al Jazeera]
[Nora Adin Fares/Al Jazeera]
[Nora Adin Fares/Al Jazeera]

Mediterranean Sea - An overcrowded wooden boat carrying 126 refugees and migrants drifts in the central Mediterranean. In the cramped space below deck, men huddle in rows next to each other, the ceiling so low that it is impossible to sit upright.

As the furious sea pounds the boat, below decks fills constantly with water. The salt mixes with leaking engine fuel into a dangerous chemical reaction that not only burns the skin but risks suffocating whoever inhales the toxins.

Above, couples are sitting together, wrapping head scarves and towels around their children to protect them from the splashing waves, exposed to the strong wind and treacherous sea.

As the last rays of the sun disappear beyond the horizon on their second day without food or water, one of the people on board manages to make a last desperate call before losing contact with the telephone towers.

"We're going to die, help us," is all he has time to tell a woman on the other end before the call cuts off.

All they can do now is sit in the night as the waves crash, hoping there is enough fuel to last until sunrise - and that somebody is coming to help.

On the other end, here is what was happening:

Source: Al Jazeera