03/2 Alarm Phone alerted to 4 emergency situations in the Aegean Sea, near Lesvos and Farmakonisi

04.02.2016 / 17:20 / Aegean Sea, Lesvos and Farmakonisi

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 3rd of February 2016

Case name: 2016_02_03-AEG201
Situation: Alarm Phone alerted to 4 emergency situations in the Aegean Sea
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Aegean Sea

Summary of the Cases: On Wednesday the 3rd of February 2016, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 4 emergency situations in the Aegean region. Two groups of travellers were able to reach Lesvos Island independently. One group in distress was rescued by the Greek coastguards and another group had stranded on Farmakonisi Island and was later found and transferred to Leros.

At 00.48am, our Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a vessel in distress off the Turkish coast, carrying about 25 people (case 1). We were informed that the vessel was capsizing which later turned out to be incorrect. We informed that Turkish coastguards about this case at 00:58am. At 3.12am we were able to establish direct contact to one of the travellers. They informed us that that they had arrived on Lesvos one hour earlier. When they landed with the boat one woman got injured, but fortunately nothing life-threatening.

At 5.04am, one of our informants told us via WhatsApp about a boat in distress near Lesvos Island, carrying about 44 people (case 2). The engine had broken down and water was entering the vessel. We reached the group on the boat at 5.08am and advised them to directly call the international emergency number 112 as the situation seemed very urgent. We then alerted to Greek coastguards to this case at 5.11am. They had been informed about the situation but noted down the new information we had gathered. They said that they had already sent a vessel to the location. We then received updated coordinates from the group on the boat, showing that they had been able to reignite the engine and were getting closer to Lesvos. At 5.30am our initial informant told us that they had arrived independently on the shore. We informed the Greek coastguards shortly afterwards that the group had safely arrived.

At 8.08am, we received a direct call from a group of travellers on a boat on its way to Lesvos (case 3). They said they were 60 people from Afghanistan. We tried to obtain more information, including their GPS position but it was not possible. We advised them to call the international emergency number 112 and alerted the Greek coastguards. At 8.41am the travellers called again, telling us that two rescue vessel had approached and were starting a rescue operation. When we could not reach the group for a while afterwards, we contacted the Greek coastguards again who confirmed that they had sent out a rescue vessel. At 9.40am we spoke to the group again and they told us that they had been rescued and were now on Lesvos.

At 8.36am we received a Facebook notification, informing us about a group of 75 people who had stranded on Farmakonisi Island (case 4). We then reached out to the Port Authority of Leros they had already been informed about the situation. We were unable to reach the stranded group and one of our contact persons told us that the military stationed on Farmakonisi had forbidden the group to use their phones. At around noon we spoke to the Port Authority again who briefly confirmed that they would send out boats to transfer the group. At 2pm we spoke to the UNHCR Greece who said that they would deliberate on the situation and connect with our shift team later on. At 3.20pm we saw on online vessel tracking sites that the boat ILIAS T was moving between Leros and Farmakonisi. At 4.25pm we received the confirmation through a contact person that the group had been found and transferred.
Last update: 19:03 Feb 10, 2016
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