30/01: Alarm Phone alerted to 6 cases in the Aegean Sea, near and on several Greek islands

31.01.2016 / 00:11 / Aegean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 30th of January 2016

Case name: 2016_01_30-AEG198
Situation: Alarm Phone alerted to 6 cases in the Aegean Sea, near Chios, Agathonisi, Samos, Pasas, Lesvos and Pserimos
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Aegean Sea

Summary of the Cases: On Saturday, the 30th of January 2016, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 6 cases of distress in the Aegean Sea, near Chios, Samos, Pasas, Lesvos and Pserimos. In one case the rescue could not be confirmed. According to a contact person, whose wife and children had been on a boat in distress near Samos, the boat had sank (probably around or after 1.30am). Some people survived the shipwreck, while others lost their lives. In the case of distress between Turkey and Chios, the travellers were rescued by the Turkish Coastguard. A group of travellers stranded on Pasas was picked up by the Chios Port Authorities in the morning. Another group had trouble to disembark from their boat close to Pserimos. Eventually fishermen helped them out of the boat and they confirmed their safe arrival.

Case 1: Just after midnight, a contact person informed us via WhatsApp about a boat in distress in Turkish waters, on the way to Chios. We reached out to the group of about 30 travellers. They were in panic, asking us for help. At 00:23am, the person who first contacted us about the case told us that the Turkish Coastguard was close to the boat, but was not helping. We called the Turkish Coastguard and it seemed as if they were not informed about the case. Shortly before 1am, our two contact persons confirmed that the Turkish Coastguard had eventually rescued the travellers.

Case 2: One hour after the first alert, at 1am, the same contact persons informed us about a second distress case in Turkish waters, between Turkey and Samos, involving about 45 persons. We could not reach the travellers. At 1.30am one of the contact persons urged us to call the Turkish Coastguard, as he had lost touch with the boat about 10 minutes earlier. When we called the Turkish Coastguard, they said that they were already informed about the case and that they had sent out a boat to rescue. We passed on the information to the contact persons. We continuously tried to get in touch with the travellers, but without success, the contact persons were not available either. On Sunday afternoon, around 4pm, we finally reached one of the contact persons via Facebook. He promised to check on the case. At 5.19pm, we received an answer from the number we had tried to call, because we had assumed it to belong to one of the travellers. It turned out that the number belonged to a person in Syria, who had his family on the boat. He informed us that the boat sank. Some travellers died, but his wife and children survived. They called him from Turkey.

Case 3: At 4:32am, we received another alert via WhatsApp. We called the phone number we were given and the phone was finally handed over to a person speaking English. She told us that they were about 80 persons, including children and elderly, stranded on Pasas and that they were in urgent need of assistance. We called the Chios Port Authority, who said that they would leave to pick up people from Pasas at dawn. We told the people on the island that rescue would come soon. They moved to the church and sent us their new coordinates. At half past 7am, we got in touch with them again. They had still not been picked up. They texted us that they were in urgent need of water for the children. At 8am, we called the Chios Port Authorities again. They said that one boat had already left for Pasas and that another one would be leaving. At 8.50am the travellers informed us that the Coastguard had arrived.

At 7.45am we received a Facebook alert about travellers on a boat close to the Greek island of Pserimos, who had trouble disembarking. We reached them by phone. They asked us to call for help. Once we had their position, we informed the Port Authorities on Pserimos about the case. At 8.30am, we called back the travellers. They told us that the Port Authorities had called them and promised to help. At 9.15am we learned that fishers helped the travellers who were now safe on the island. We tried to re-establish contact with the group to find out whether the Port Authorities had picked them up, but only reached them hours later. They told us that they were safe.
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