34 people in distress off the coast of Lesvos/Greece - all rescued

02.03.2015 / 19:37 / North of Lesvos island, Greece

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigation – 28th of February 2015

Case name: 2015_02_28-AEG3
Situation: Vessel in distress off the coast of Lesvos/Greece
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Time and Place of Incident: 28th of February, off the coast of Lesvos/Greece

Summary of the Case:The shift team of the Watch The Med Alarm Phone received a distress call around 13:00h from passengers on a vessel near the Greek island of Mytilene. They informed the shift team that 35 people were in distress and stuck in the same position at sea for nearly two hours. The contact person appeared scared and in panic, stating repeatedly that they had little time left and urgently needed help. They were unable, however, to pass on their exact position.

The shift team reached out to the Greek coastguard and passed on the received information. Shortly after, the boat-people called again with more information, stating that 10 babies, 10 women and 15 men were on board and that they were about 5 kilometers off the island of Mytilene, able to see a mountain and approximately 300-400 buildings. The shift team enquired whether they should also alert the Turkish coastguard and the contact person responded that we should inform whoever would be able to come to their rescue. We sent an email to both the Greek and Turkish coastguards to document the details we had gathered and also reached out to the Hellenic Rescue Team and the Turkish coastguard also via phone.

In a phone call, the rescue centre in Mytilene stated that they had sent out vessels but were unable to find the vessel. We provided the rescue centre with further information and they asked us to call them back an hour later. We then received a call from the Greek Coast Guards who told us that they had localised and rescued all the people in distress. They said that there were 34 people and many children who were brought to the port of Mythimna. Shortly after that the Hellenic Rescue Team also called and confirmed that the vessel in distress was being pulled to the port. The Greek Coast Guards later announced the rescue online (see source 1).
Credibility: UP DOWN 0
Layers »
  • Border police patrols
    While the exact location of patrols is of course constantly changing, this line indicates the approximate boundary routinely patrolled by border guards’ naval assets. In the open sea, it usually correspond to the outer extent of the contiguous zone, the area in which “State may exercise the control necessary to prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws” (UNCLOS, art. 33). Data source: interviews with border police officials.
  • Coastal radars
    Approximate radar beam range covered by coastal radars operating in the frame of national marine traffic monitoring systems. The actual beam depends from several different parameters (including the type of object to be detected). Data source: Finmeccanica.
  • Exclusive Economic Zone
    Maritime area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea in which the coastal state exercises sovereign rights for the purposes of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, the seabed and its subsoil and the superjacent waters. Its breadth is 200 nautical miles from the straight baselines from which the territorial sea is measured (UNCLOS, Arts. 55, 56 and 57). Data source: Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero, Atlas of the European Seas and Oceans
  • Frontex operations
    Frontex has, in the past few years, carried out several sea operations at the maritime borders of the EU. The blue shapes indicate the approximate extend of these operations. Data source: Migreurop Altas.
  • Mobile phone coverage
    Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network coverage. Data source: Collins Mobile Coverage.
  • Oil and gas platforms
    Oil and gas platforms in the Mediterranean. Data source:
  • Search and Rescue Zone
    An area of defined dimensions within which a given state is has the responsibility to co-ordinate Search and Rescue operations, i.e. the search for, and provision of aid to, persons, ships or other craft which are, or are feared to be, in distress or imminent danger. Data source: IMO availability of search and rescue (SAR) services - SAR.8/Circ.3, 17 June 2011.
  • Territorial Waters
    A belt of sea (usually extending up to 12 nautical miles) upon which the sovereignty of a coastal State extends (UNCLOS, Art. 2). Data source: Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero, Atlas of the European Seas and Oceans