About 78 people in distress in the Central Med, rescued by Italy

11.08.2015 / 13:51 / Central Mediterranean Sea, Off the coast of Libya

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigation – 10th of August 2015

Case name: 2015_08_10-CM40
Situation: Vessel in distress in the Central Med, rescued
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Central Mediterranean Sea, Libya

Summary of the Case:: On Monday the 10th of August 2015, Father Mussie Zerai contacted the Alarm Phone and informed us about a vessel in distress in the Central Mediterranean Sea, carrying approximately 85 people. Father Zerai forwarded a satellite phone number and told us that the vessel had left Tripoli/Libya about 10-11 hours earlier. They now were without food and had run out of petrol. We then contacted the travellers directly and asked them to send us their GPS position which, at first, did not work. We then alerted the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome and forwarded all the details we had.

Shortly afterwards, at around 10.40am, we received the coordinates of the vessel which we immediately passed on to MRCC Rome. We also informed the Maltese coastguard about the distress situation. At approximately 11:33m we received updated GPS coordinates from the group at sea and passed them on to the authorities. About an hour later they reported that water was entering their vessel and that they phone was running out of battery. Shortly afterwards they called again to tell us that they could see a large blue vessel in the distance.

At approximately 12:48pm, MRCC Rome confirmed that they had launched a rescue operation and only minutes later the travellers said that the vessel in vicinity was a military vessel. MRCC Rome then also stated that the vessel was a ‘war ship’ that would conduct the rescue operation. In the evening, MRCC Rome confirmed that the rescue operation had been concluded. There were 78 people in total on the vessel, with no fatalities.
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