04/11 11 cases of distress near Samos, Kos, Izmir, Lesvos, and Ro‬‬

05.11.2015 / 13:19 / Aegean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 4th of November 2015

Case name: 2015_11_04-AEG119
Situation: Alarm Phone actively involved in 8 cases of distress near Samos, Kos, Izmir, Lesvos, and Ro
‬‬Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Aegean Sea

Summary of the Cases: On Wednesday the 4th of November 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 11 cases and intervened in 8 cases of distress in the Aegean Sea, near the Greek islands of Samos, Kos, Lesvos, and Ro‬‬ and off the Turkish coast close to Izmir.
At 0.43, we received a first alert on Facebook about a boat in distress near Samos, carrying 44 persons (Case 1). The contact person told us that the engine was not working anymore and that among the passengers was a pregnant woman and several children. We informed the Greek coastguard, who was not yet informed about the case and promised help. At 2am, another contact person told us that the travellers had still not been rescued. We called the Greek coastguard again and they told us that they had rescued 8 persons in the position we had given them. We told him that there had been about 44 persons on the boat. We were worried until we found out through one of the contact persons that indeed there had been only 8 persons and not 44 persons on the boat.

At 3.30am another Facebook message reached us about a distress case near the island of Pserimos north of Kos with 12 travellers involved (Case 2). Their engine had apparently broken down. We managed to get into direct contact with them. Communication was difficult, but they were obviously on a boat and no engine was running. We informed the Greek coastguard about the case, but they wanted the travellers to call them directly. We forwarded this request to the travellers. At 7.35 the coastguard confirmed that the rescue operation had been successful.

At 3.48am we received a WhatsApp message about 60 travellers with 7 children among them in urgent distress (travellers fainting, broken engine) near the Turkish coast, close to Izmir (Case 3). We immediately informed the Turkish coastguard. At 4.25am the contact person confirmed the rescue by the Turkish coastguard.

At 4am the Alarm Phone was contacted by a member from "Save the Refugees" about a group of 40 travellers, who was trapped between cliffs on a rocky beach near Molyvos, northern Lesvos (Case 4). We asked the contact person whether they had already called 112, but he said that the battery of the phone was low and that they had lost all other phones in the water. We immediately informed the coastguard on Molyvos and we called the police as well as the Port Police in Molyvos in the morning. The Police in Molyvos did not speak English and the Port Police took the coordinates, but told us that they could not call the group, because they could only call Greek numbers. Still, they promised to send volunteers to look for the group. An hour later, at 9am we called them back and apparently they had not sent any help. We thus turned to the coastguard, who told us that they were busy with several arrivals and that they would send help, but not immediately. We could not reach the travellers and did not have any news from the contact person either. We kept calling the Coastguard and the Port Police, but they apparently not willing or not able to send help. Finally we got into ouch with a contact person from 'United Rescues' who had been in touch with the travellers and could confirm their rescue.

At 4.30am the contact person from "Save the Refugees" informed us about another distress case: an unknown number of travellers on a boat off the Turkish coast near Dikili could not go on, as they had run out of fuel (Case 5). We managed to reach the group, but could hardly communicate with the person, who picked up the phone. We informed the Turkish coastguard about the case, however a few minutes later the contact person informed us that the travellers had just met another boat and that they had been provided with fuel. We let the Turkish coastguard know that the travellers could carry on by themselves. Later, at 10.30am we called the travellers again. They told us that they were safe, but that they had gone back to Izmir, Turkey.

At 6am we received an alert on Facebook concerning a group of 12 travellers, who had stranded on the Greek island of Ro and were wet and freezing (Case 6). We informed the Greek coastguard, who promised to take care of the case. At 7:48am we reached the travellers and told them that the coastguard was coming to pick them up. At 8:05am the contact person wrote us on Facebook that the group had still not been rescued. We explained that the coastguard was on its way. At 10:24am the contact person sent us new coordinates, indicating that the group had been picked up and brought to a city on Kastellorizo.

On Tuesday evening one contact person informed us about three cases: At 5pm he informed us about 50 travellers going towards Lesbos. They reached land by themselves twenty minutes later (Case 7). At half past eight, he contacted us about a boat with 10 persons on board off the Turkish coast (Case 8). We could not reach the travellers to ask about their situation, but passend on their position to the Greek coastguard. At 9.50pm we called the Turkish coastguard and they said that they had already rescued the group. Another group of 10 travellers going towards Kos had apparently had a problem with an engine, but was rescued by the Greek coastguard without our intervention (Case 9).

At 9pm a person contacted us from Turkey, who was about to get on a boat to cross to Greece. He was with a group of 62 persons and they wanted to cross in 2 boats, but it was not clear whether there were going to be two boats. Early in the morning, he sent us pictures from the group on the beach. They had managed to get two boats, but the waves were too high, so they decided not to cross.

Shortly before midnight, the contact person who had already informed us about cases 7, 8 and 9 alerted us to another distress situation: 2 persons had stranded on Samos and lost orientation (Case 11). We called them and they told us that they were brother and sister and they needed help, as on of them (the sister) was ill and as they were completely lost. They had already tried to call 112 and 108, but had not reached anyone and were now running out of battery. We promised to inform the local authorities. We first tried with the port authorities, but they told us to call the police, who in turn did not speak English and thus told us to call the port authority. We then sent an email to the police and called the port authorities again. At 1am the port authorities picked up the phone and we explained that we could not communicate with the Police. They thus took the coordinates and promised to talk to the police, At 1.45am we called them back and they told us that the police was going to send help. We tried to call the siblings to let them know that help was underway, but we could not reach them. At 3am the Samos port authorities called us back, saying that they had in addition to the local police force, sent a boat to look for the siblings and that they had reached the last position we had forwarded to them, but could not see anyone. This time we reached the siblings and they sent us their latest position. I then called the office of the port authorities so that they could forward the coordinates to their colleagues on the boat. However, just as we spoke, the officer told me that her colleagues had found the siblings. At 6am we sent a WhatsApp message to the siblings, but never got a final confirmation of their recue.
Last update: 18:10 Nov 09, 2015
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