28/01: More than hundred persons stranded in the Aegean on Pasas island, 2 cases of distress near Lesvos

29.01.2016 / 20:06 / Aegean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 28th of January 2016

Case name: 2016_01_28-AEG196
Situation: More than hundred persons stranded in the Aegean on Pasas island, 2 cases of distress near Lesvos
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Aegean Sea

Summary of the Cases: On Thursday, the 28th of January 2016, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 6 cases of distress in the Aegean Sea: 3 cases of distress at sea near Lesvos and several cases of persons stranded on Pasas island. All travellers could be rescued. The Chios Port Authority picked up all people who had stranded on Pasas. In two cases of distress at sea, the Turkish Coastguard rescued the boats and brought back all travellers to Turkey. In the other case, the Greek Coastguard rescued and brought the travellers to Greece.

Case 1: At quarter past midnight, we received an alert via WhatsApp concerning a boat with a broken engine. The 40 travellers on the boat were on their way from Turkey to Lesvos. We could not reach the travellers, but our contact person was in direct contact with them and asked us to inform the Coastguard. We thus called the Greek Coastguard. They were already informed about the case and had already sent a boat. At 1:19am our contact person confirmed that the travellers had been rescued by the Greek Coastguard.

During the night from Wednesday to Thursday, we were alerted to three cases of travellers stranded on Pasas.
Case 2: Around 1am three persons contacted us about a group of about 50 persons in distress. Despite being provided with three different contact numbers, we could not reach the travellers.
Case 3: At 1.16am, we were alerted to a second group stranded on Pasas - this time about 100 persons, mostly children. They seemed to be on one of the few roads on Pasas. We told the contact person that they should not move, as they were in a good position to be picked up.
Case 4: The alert about the third group reached us at half past 1am. Our contact person provided us with a number and coordinates - which showed them in the water near Vatos Island, a small island by Pasas. Again we were unable to reach the travellers, but had several persons contact us about the same case. At 2am, we finally managed to reach the third group. Communication was difficult, as we could not find a common language, but the person we talked to repeated several times: ‘fire’ ‘beach’, ‘women’, and ‘children’. We were wondering, whether they were making fire on the beach to keep warm. A few minutes later, one of the contact persons told us that the travellers had reached Pasas. The other contact persons confirmed this. They could not tell us how many travellers were involved, because the people themselves could not make a good estimate, as it was dark. The travellers had told the contact persons that they were between 60 and 110 people. Apparently two children were in urgent need of medical assistance.
At 3am we called the Chios Port Authority about the three alerts we had received after midnight and about the group we had been informed about on Wednesday evening at 11.12pm (see report of 27.1.2016). The Coastguard knew already about people being stranded on Pasas, but they were happy to have the positions of the groups. The officer on duty told us that boats would be sent in the morning. We passed on this message to all our contact persons. One of our contacts answered that he had advised one of the groups to go to the church to seek protection from the cold. At 7.13am we received new coordinates from one of our contact persons. We sent a WhatsApp to one of the other groups. They responded that they were still waiting and that they were hungry, cold and wet. At 8.45am we checked with the Chios Port Authority again, who told us that they had sent all boats available to Pasas. We informed our contacts about the good news. At 9.13am, one of our contacts on Pasas confirmed that boats had arrived to pick them up. At 12.15 we received the information that 125 people had been rescued. At 12.39 one of the travellers confirmed that all people had been picked up from the island.

Case 5: At 2.10am a contact person informed us about a boat in distress carrying 46 persons. Their engine had stopped about one hour earlier. They were in Turkish waters, so the contact persons asked us to call the Turkish Coastguard. We first wanted to check with the travellers, but could not reach them. At 2.30am we called the Turkish Coastguard, who promised to search for and rescue the travellers. One hour later, we checked with the Turkish Coastguard, who said that they had found and saved the boat. Later around 9am our contact person confirmed that the boat had been rescued to Turkey and that all travellers were safe.

Case 6: At 10.00am we received a Facebook message about a boat in distress in Turkish waters, near Lesvos, carrying about 40 persons. We also received a WhatsApp message with the same position and the information that the boat was leaking and that about to capsize. The person who informed us had lost touch with the boat about 15 minutes earlier. We called the Turkish Coastguard, who told us that they had already started a rescue operation for the boat in question. At 11am, both the WhatsApp and the Facebook contact confirmed that the Turkish Coastguard had rescued all travellers and brought them back to Turkey.
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