Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 24th of September 2015Case name
: 9 distress cases in the Aegean Sea, close to Kouneli, Farmakonisi, Chios, Samos, Lesvos, NeraStatus of WTM Investigation
: Concluded Place of Incident
: Aegean SeaSummary of the Cases:
On Thursday, the 24th of September 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 9 cases of distress in the Aegean Sea, close to the Greek islands of Kouneli, Farmakonisi, Chios, Samos, Lesvos, and Nera.
The 1st alert reached us at twenty minutes past midnight. A contact person sent us an e-mail with the coordinates and number of a boat and told us that the boat had been attacked and left behind without fuel. We called the Turkish coastguard, who already knew about the case and who had already sent a boat. At 1am the Turkish coastguard called us back to inform us that they had saved 46 persons.
Shortly after the first alert, at 00.25am the Alarm Phone shift team received a 2nd alert. A group of 20 persons with 6 children among them had stranded on a beach on Konely Island. They said that they were freezing. They had talked to the coast guard five hours earlier, who had promised to come, but never did. The shift team contacted the Greek coastguard, who was not very cooperative, because the stranded travellers had already called them three times. Nevertheless the coastguard promised to look for the travellers. We also sent an e-mail with the coordinates to the coastguard. During the whole night, we kept in touch with the travellers via WhatsApp. At 6.35 they called us again on the alarm phone, but communication was difficult. At 7.20 we called the police station in Agathonisi. The person on duty told us that they had sent a boat to the stranded group. At 10.30am we received a WhatsApp message from Nawal Soufi's activist collective about the same case with the information that the travellers had still not been picked up. At 11am a friend in Greece called the police in Agathonisi again and received the information that the travellers had been taken to Agathonisi.
At 2am we were alerted by different contact persons to a 3rd distress case in the Aegean Sea, close to Farmakonisi, Greece. 41 travellers with 11 children among them were lost in a storm. We informed the Greek coastguard, but they said that the travellers should go on by themselves, as their engine was still working. We tried several times to contact the travellers, but without success. At 3am we received a message from one of the contact persons that the engine had broken down. We forwarded the information to the Greek coastguard. At 4.10am another contact person called us with the information that the boat had been attacked by people wearing masks. Again, we passed on the information to the Greek coastguard. A few minutes later, at 4.30am one of the contact persons told us that the travellers had arrived in Farmakonisi. We sent a final e-mail to the coastguard, asking them to pick up the travellers from the deserted island. During the day, we tried to follow up the transfer of the group from Farmakonisi to another island. At 3.25pm, we finally got in touch with a representative of UNHCR Greece, who forwarded the information to her colleagues on Leros and assured us that they would take care of the group.
At 2:41, the shift team received a WhatsApp message about a 4th distress case of a vessel between Turkey and Chios, Greece in danger of capsizing. We called the Greek coastguard, but they told us that the boat was in Turkish water. After checking with the contact person, we called the Turkish coastguard about the case. They told us that they were informed about the case and that the rescue was ongoing. We reached out to the contact person, who confirmed that the travellers saw a big and a small rescue boat close by. At 4am the contact person messaged us that the travellers had been taken back to Turkey.
During the day the Alarm Phone was alerted to 4 other cases of distress in the Aegean Sea. One boat near Sami carrying 30 persons and another boat near Lesvos in distress were rescued by the Greek coastguard, without our intervention. another boat near lesvos reached the coast by themselves and one group that had stranded on Nera was picked up by the police and brought to Agathonisi.
At 5.36pm we received a call from a German number about a 9th distress case of a person trying to swim to Greece. He probably left Turkey at 11am and his family had not heard from him since. The contact person did not know where the swimmer started, what his destination or his last position was. We sent an email to the Greek and Turkish coastguards, to the Greek police and the UNHCR to inform them about the incident and to ask whether they had any further information. At 6.30 we received a WhatsApp message with the name of the swimmer (Amar Mhamad Al Sous / Ammar Mohamad Haidar Alsous), his age (born 1996) and photos. The last contact with his family had been on September 14th 2015.
Last update: 17:19 Oct 03, 2015