Picture power: The drowning man

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Image copyright Alessio Paduano

When the crew of Sea-Watch 3 received a distress call from an inflatable boat off the coast of Tripoli, photographer Alessio Paduano was on hand to record the event. Here he describes how he captured the moment a man crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe was plucked to safety.

"It was about 11.30 and we were 30 miles from Libya, so in international waters. After seeing a racing inflatable boat with migrants on board, Sea-Watch 3 launched two rescue boats - I was inside one of these.

"It was a dramatic situation and after crossing the sea for a few hundred metres I already heard the desperate screams coming from everywhere. The screams felt even more deafening in the silence of the sea.

"The people on the water swam with all their strength to stay afloat, and one of the most troubled ones was fortunately very close to us. He could hardly keep his head out of the water.

"When I took this picture I heard his breathing interrupted by the water that was going into his mouth. The sounds of that breath are still in my head.

"As a human being I always hope not to attend dramatic scenes, but as a photojournalist I cannot avoid to be a witness of what I see, even if it goes very badly.

"It was a strong emotional moment but fortunately after a while our rescue raft approached him, now almost drowned, and the crew of Sea-Watch 3, with no small effort, was able to pull him out of the sea."

You can see more work by Alessio Paduano on his website