Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations - 31st of July 2015Case name
: Disoriented travellers in need of rescue on Samos island; vessel in distress in the Aegean Sea/Turkey, after being punctured by Greek coastguardStatus of WTM Investigations
: One open, one concludedPlace of Incidents
: Aegean Sea, GreeceSummary of the Cases
: On Friday the 31st of July 2015, at approximately 7.30am, the Alarm Phone was informed about a group of 45 travellers who had reached Samos Island/Greece. There were many children amongst the group who, so our contact person, needed help urgently. He passed on the GPS position of the group and also reported that he had already informed the police but without results. Our shift team then contacted the police station on Samos Island but communications were difficult as they did not speak English. At about 8.30am, we spoke to the group on Samos and passed on the number of the Greek UNHCR to them. They stated that one person was wounded and that they could not stop the bleeding. Following their account, the police passed by but left without supporting them. For several hours afterwards, the group could not be contacted and it was not clear whether Greek authorities were responsive to our demands to search for them. At noon, the Greek coastguards informed us that they had several distress cases at the moment and were unable to search for the group, despite having the GPS position indicating their location.
On the same day we had a second case of distress between Turkey and the island of Samos. At about 7.07am our shift team was informed by a contact person that his friends were in distress at sea after the Greek coastguard had punctured their vessel. They were in danger of capsizing. Shortly afterwards, the people on the vessel were able to send us their position via WhatsApp. We then contacted the Turkish coastguard who promised to search for them. At about 8.14am we reached out to the group again and they informed us that they were 27 people on board. Their vessel was losing air and several travellers did not wear life-vests. They passed on their new GPS position and said they were able to see a vessel that was observing them as well as another vessel with refugees on board. They said that the other refugee vessel had also been punctured by the Greek coastguard. At about 8.27am, the Turkish coastguard stated that they were monitoring the situation and that, due to several distress cases and a lack of resources, they would rescue vessels one at the time. We also informed them about the allegations against the Greek coastguards and they stated that the Greek coastguard would do ‘several of such activities’. We then communicated to the group via WhatsApp and they stated at 8.49am that some of the passengers had already been rescued and transferred to the Turkish vessel. At 8.56 they sent a picture of the boat, one air chamber was completely flattened and about 15 minutes later, they had all been taken on board of the Turkish vessel. At 1.30pm we learned that they had been released from the Turkish prison. On the whole there were about 50 people from both vessels.
We informed UNHCR in Greece and Turkey, human rights organisations on both sides of the border and the Greek ministry on migration for further investigations on this case.
Last update: 09:37 Aug 04, 2015