About 110 people in distress in the Central Med, all rescued

03.06.2015 / 14:45 / Central Mediterranean Sea, Off the coast of Libya

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigation – 2nd of June 2015

Case name: 2015_06_02-CM21
Situation: Vessel in distress in Libyan waters, approximately 110 people rescued
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Central Mediterranean Sea

Summary of the Case: In the afternoon of Tuesday the 2nd of June 2015, our shift team of the Alarm Phone was alerted by Father Mussie Zerai to a vessel in distress in the Central Mediterranean Sea and obtained the satellite phone number of the passengers. The shift team contacted the passengers directly at around 3pm and learned that there were approximately 110 people on the vessel that had left Tripoli/Libya the day before. They stated that their engine had broken down and that they were very tired. The shift team was able to receive the GPS coordinates of the vessel and then contacted the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome. In a cooperative way, MRCC Rome confirmed that they would reach out to the vessel in distress.

In further phone conversations with the people in distress, the shift team sought to obtain more information but communication was difficult. We then informed the MRCC Rome, the UNHCR, MOAS and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) about the situation and passed on the information received through the passengers. At around 4.30pm the passengers contacted our shift team once again, passing on updated coordinates and stating that they could see two large vessels in vicinity. Again these information were forwarded to MRCC Rome and in the meantime we were able to charge the satellite phone of the passengers with credit so that they could continue making distress calls if in need. After 5.30pm, contact to the vessel broke down and could not be re-established.

Our shift team contacted MSF who confirmed that they presumably have had contact to the vessel in the morning and had alerted MRCC Rome to the case. After we had notified them in the afternoon they contacted the passengers again and found out that no rescue had occurred. They contacted MRCC Rome again and then stated that they could observe a vessel directing itself to the vessel in question, presumably to conduct a rescue operation.

At around 7pm, MRCC Rome confirmed that the passengers had been rescued by a patrol vessel of the Italian coastguard and that they would be brought to Italy. The shift team then informed MSF, the UNHCR and MOAS about the successful rescue operation.
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

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