Approximately 40 people in distress on Oinousses Island/Gr., all rescued

23.04.2015 / 22:39 / Oinousses Island, Greece

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigation – 23rd of April 2015

Case name:2015_04_23-AEG8
Situation: Approximately 40 people in distress on Oinousses Island/Gr
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Oinuousses Island, Greece

Summary of the Case: On Thursday the 23nd of April 2015, the shift team of the Alarm Phone received a distress call in the early hours of the day. The contact person reported that about 40 people, including 8 children, had left Syria and were on their way to Greece. They had troubles with their vessel which started sinking but they were able to reach the coast of an island. The shift team understood that the place in question was the Greek island of Oinousses. The passengers had already tried to alert the Greek authorities but were unable to reach them. They asked for assistance and the shift team contacted the Greek authorities and passed on the obtained information, including phone numbers and coordinates.

The Greek coastguards told the shift team that they were not responsible for that area and passed on numbers for us to call. The shift team contacted JRCC Piraeus and was told that they would send someone to check on the situation. However, when contacting the authorities in Piraeus again, hours later, it became clear that they still had not sent out anyone to the people in distress. At last, they confirmed that a rescue operation would take place. The shift team reached out to the people on Oinousses Island again and gave further advice.

For hours, contact to the Syrian refugees could not be established. The shift team contacted the UNHCR in Greece and Turkey, JRCC Piraeus, the Ministry, and the Hellenic Police. Then, the shift team was able to reach the refugees again. They had already moved to a town and were waiting to be transferred to Chios. The UNHCR later confirmed that the local police on the island had found the group of Syrians who would be brought to the island of Chios shortly (see also source 1).
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  • 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