The two swimmers who were rescued in Sliema as rough seas dragged them out further and further have been confirmed to only have slight injuries following the near-tragedy.
The two males – a 14-year-old Chinese teen and a 37-year-old Libyan man – found themselves in serious distress in the sea near the Chalet area in Sliema on Wednesday night.
As darkness hit the island and rough waves battered the shore, emergency assistance – including three boats and officials from various response departments – rushed to the area in an attempt to save the pair before it was too late.
Amidst the operations, Sliema resident Sean Meli jumped into the sea and personally dragged the Chinese teen back to land, with the assistance of the assembled officers who were pulling on a rope that Meli was holding onto.
Since the brave act, many people across the island have called for Meli to be awarded the Ġieħ ir-Repubblika, the highest honour a civilian can be awarded in Malta.
Even Prime Minister Robert Abela has pledged to give Sean Meli some kind of official recognition.
“The person who heroically saved someone from the jaws of death yesterday should receive recognition for the bravery he displayed,” Abela said. “I will make sure this happens at the right moment.”
“There can no doubt that there is nothing more satisfactory than saving a life, but society needs to recognise people like him.”
Meli himself recounted the moment he decided to jump into rough seas to save someone he had never met.
“I could see that someone was drowning and I saw a rescue boat circling around for him, and I thought they would rescue him,” Meli said. “However, then I noticed that the rescue boat couldn’t see the man, that it’s flashlight wasn’t reaching him and that it was turning away.”
“Obviously the police tried to stop me to protect me but I kept on going, stripped down to my boxers and socks and jumped into the sea,” he continued.
“I swam to this person, who I realised was a young Asian man, told him not to panic and slapped his face a bit to release saltwater he had swallowed. I then started swimming with him in my hands towards the rescue team, which lifted him out of the water.”
“I was scared that he would die in my arms, which would have been so traumatic. That was the only time I was scared but thankfully he was saved.”
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