Alarm Phone alerted to 6 distress cases in the Aegean Sea near Kos, Samos, Lesvos and Chios

22.10.2015 / 17:35 / Aegean Sea near Kos, Samos, Lesvos and Chios

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 21th of October 2015

Case name: 2015_10_21-AEG106
Situation: Alarm Phone working on 6 distress cases in the Aegean Sea
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Aegean Sea

Summary of the Cases: On Wednesday the 21st of October 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 6 emergency situations in the Aegean Sea most of which occurred near the Greek islands of Kos, Samos, Lesvos and Chios.

At 4.30am our shift team received a distress call from a vessel near Kos (case 1). We were informed that they were about 50 people, including many women and children who had left from Bodrum/Turkey. They were able to see a small island near them. We then notified the Greek coastguard about this case and they said that they had several rescue vessels out at sea. At 5.22am we were able to obtain the GPS position of the travellers which we immediately passed on to the Greek coastguards who, however, stated that the vessel was still in Turkish waters. As the vessel was still moving toward Greece, we asked the travellers to keep us regularly updated about their situation. Shortly after 7am, we informed the Greek coastguards about the new position of the vessel and while taking down the details it was not clear whether or not they would send out a rescue vessel to the location. The travellers then asked us to alert the Turkish coastguards as well which we did. Afterwards, we could not get back in touch with the travellers. At 10.32am the Turkish coastguard confirmed that they had rescued the people.

In the afternoon we were informed about a group of travellers near Makroniso Island, a small Greek island near Samos, and needed support (case 2). We informed Samos Port Authority who were very cooperative and said that they would take action. We were unable to get in touch with the travellers directly for several hours until about 8pm when they confirmed via WhatsApp that they had been rescued.

At 5.15pm we were alerted to a distress situation near between Turkey and Lesvos Island through a Facebook post (case 3). We reached the people on the boat and they were about 45 people including 7 children. They said that their engine had broken down and their children were starting to panic. They asked us to inform the Turkish coastguards which we did. They confirmed that they would go and rescue the group. At 6.45pm the group told us that the Turkish coastguards had found them and were in the process of rescuing them.

At 6.51pm we were informed about a vessel carrying 60 people, again between Turkey and Lesvos Island (case 4). With the obtained coordinates we could see that they were still in Turkish waters. We then spoke to the travellers directly who reported that their engine had broken down and that an 8 year old on the vessel was injured. Shortly afterwards they were able to re-start their engine and move on. We informed the Greek coastguards at 7.15pm and passed on their new coordinates. They said that they would look into the situation. Shortly afterwards, our initial informant told us that the vessel had been rescued, which was also confirmed by the travellers themselves via WhatsApp at 7.48pm.

In the evening, at 8.50pm, our shift team was informed via WhatsApp about another emergency situation, this time involving 36 people, including up to 17 children (case 5). When we were not able to reach the travellers we informed the Greek coastguards who confirmed that they had already learned about this case and were launching a rescue operation. At 11pm the Greek coastguards stated that the group had arrived on Chios Island independently.

Shortly afterwards we learned about another distress case, concerning a group of about 15 people who had reached Samos Island but needed medical assistance (case 6). We also heard that up to 25 people from that group had gone missing but we could not verify that information. We informed the port authorities on Samos who already knew about this case. The group was exposed to a thunderstorm and was in desperate need of support. For several hours no news about their rescue could be obtained. At 1.19am, the port authority on Samos confirmed that they had rescued 16 people.
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