21/01: Alarm Phone alerted to boat with 500 travellers in distress north of Zuwara/Libya

22.01.2016 / 14:37 / Central Mediterranean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 21st of January 2016

Case name: 2016_01_21-CM54
Situation: Alarm Phone alerted to boat with 500 travellers in distress north of Zuwara/Libya; all rescued
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Central Mediterranean Sea

Summary of the Case: On Thursday the 21st of January 2016 at 9.46am the Alarm Phone was alerted to a boat in distress in the Central Mediterranean Sea by Father Mussie Zerai. He provided us with the GPS position and a satellite phone number of the travellers and told us that there were about 500 persons on board of the boat in distress, including 50 women and 10 children. The boat was located quite close to the Libyan coast north of Zuwara, but already in international waters. We tried to call the satellite phone immediately afterwards but were not able to reach the travellers. Instead we sent a short message to their phone and asked them, to call the number of the Alarm Phone by themselves. At 10am we called the Italian coastguard. They had already been informed about the boat by Father Zerai and confirmed to us that they were preparing a rescue operation. Father Zerai informed us that he was not able to communicate with the travellers as there were only Arabic-speaking travellers on board of the boat. Thus we contacted an Arabic-translator from our network, who started to communicate directly with the travellers in Arabic. Beyond that, we checked the credit of the satellite phone and charged it, as the credit was very low. At 11am we were able to receive an updated position with the help of the translator, the boat had moved about 10 kilometres further north. At 11.35am we realized that another person had also charged the satellite phone’s credit with a large amount. Afterwards, Father Zerai took over the case again. In the late evening, at 11pm, he confirmed to us that the boat had been rescued and all 500 travellers were saved.
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

Related Reports

18:17 Oct 06, 2015 / Central Mediterranean Sea Kms
2 Boats with hundreds of persons on board, all rescued
13:22 Dec 06, 2015 / Central Mediterranean Sea Kms
400 people in distress in the Central Med – all rescued
19:21 Jul 29, 2015 / Central Mediterranean Sea, Off the coast of Libya Kms
Vessel in distress in the Central Med, rescued
17:05 Dec 01, 2014 / Northwest of Zuwarah, Libya Kms
Refugee Boat in Distress off the Coast of Libya