With a camera on his helmet: The moments when a rubber dinghy with 120 people on board suffers a puncture, and the Mediterranean is filled with refugees fighting for their lives.

Photographer at Politiken Jacob Ehrbahn wore a video camera on his helmet when he went out with a voluntary crew to rescue refugees in open sea.

To begin with, things seem relatively calm. It is morning, at the sea off the Libyan coast, when two motor boats from the rescue vessel Sea-Watch 2 set off in different directions towards two overcrowded rubber dinghies.

Then it happens. One of the motor boats – with Jacob Ehrbahn on board – receives a call from their colleagues in the other rescue boat, Tornado. It is clearly an emergency call:

A dinghy with 120 refugees and migrants has suddenly suffered a puncture. It is sinking. People fall off the boat into the water. The crew from the Tornado is trying to help them, but they take on too many people. Now they are at risk of sinking, too.

Warning: Graphic images and scenes

For two weeks, Jacob Ehrbahn and Kjeld Hybel, photographer and journalist at the Danish daily Politiken, were on board a German rescue ship with volunteers from the NGO Sea-Watch. In several cases they were on board the motor boats that pick up desperate, exhausted refugees  in open sea.

The video above was recorded with a camera attached to Jacob Ehrbahn’s helmet on that day when a rescue operation took a dramatic turn – and a pregnant woman drowned.

During the rescue mission he also took still photographs with his ordinary camera. But not many. Two of those pictures were part of a reporting that was published in Politiken, Sunday 18 June 2017.

The video at the top also includes an interview with Jacob Ehrbahn who, among other things, tells about a decision he made before boarding the ship Sea-Watch 2: If he was put in a situation in which he had to choose between taking a photo or help save a life, he would try to do the latter.

During the entire rescue mission two Libyan vessels can be seen in the background. They are ’scavengers’ who are waiting for people to leave the dinghies so that afterwards can grab the engines and sell them back in Libya.

Beneath, the entire unedited video can be seen at full length  (almost 15 minutes).

Raw footage: Watch the entire rescue mission

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