23/2 Alarm Phone alerted to 6 emergency situations in the Aegean Sea, near Chios, Samos, Lesvos, Pasas and Farmakonisi

24.02.2016 / 22:44 / Aegean Sea, near Chios, Samos, Lesvos, Pasas and Farmakonisi

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 23rd of February 2016

Case name: 2016_02_23-AEG216
Situation: Alarm Phone alerted to 6 emergency situations in the Aegean Sea
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Aegean Sea

Summary of the Cases: On Tuesday the 23rd of February 2016, the Alarm Phone team was alerted to 6 emergency situations in the Aegean region.

One group of travellers was in distress between Turkey and Samos Island and unfortunately no confirmation for their rescue could be obtained. Another group had arrived on Samos Island and needed medical support. We were alerted to three boats in distress, near Samos, Lesvos and Pasas. Two of them were able to safely reach Greece while one of them was rescued by the Turkish authorities and returned to Turkey. One group had stranded on Farmakonisi Island and was later found and transferred off the island by the Greek coastguards.

At 2.02am, we received a WhatsApp call from a contact person who told us about a vessel in distress, carrying 40 people toward Chios, including 25 children (case 1). We were informed that the engine had broken down. We then also learned about the same distress situation through other contact persons. The group of travellers could not be directly reached. While the boat appeared to still be in Turkish waters, one contact person had informed the Greek coastguards, convinced that the vessel was already in Greek waters. At 3.31am, one of our contact persons told us that they had just spoken to the travellers and they were still moving, though slowly, as the engine was breaking down repeatedly. In the following hours, we were unable to contact the boat and also our contact persons were unable to reach them. Unfortunately we were not able to receive a confirmation for their rescue.

At 3.37am, activist colleagues of ours informed us about a group of about 80 people who had arrived on Samos Island (case 2). We reached out to the group and learned that 4 people among them were sick and required medical attention. We then reached out to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Samos Island and passed on all the details of the case. For several hours, no new information about the group could be obtained. At 8.40am, the Samos Police stated that they had encountered about 140 people in the morning. In the following hours we tried to verify whether this was the group that we had been alerted to. At 1.35pm, our contact person informed us that they had all been found and were safe.

At 7.02am, we received a message via WhatsApp from an activist colleague of ours, informing us about 55 people who were on a vessel near Samos (case 3). Their engine had stopped and there were several children on board. When we could not reach the travellers directly we informed the Greek coastguards to the case and they noted down the details of the situation. At 7.39am, our informant told us that relatives of someone on the boat had confirmed that they had safely reached the island. It is quite clear whether they were able to do so independently or were rescued by the Greek coastguards.

At 7.58am, we received a Facebook message from a contact person who told us about a group of 40 people on a boat near the island of Lesvos but still in Turkish waters (case 4). Their engine had stopped so that they could not move on. We were unable to reach the travellers directly. Already 10 minutes later, our contact person confirmed that they had been rescued, but by the Turkish coastguards who would return them to Turkey.

At 9.40am, we learned about a group of about 70 people who were on a vessel in distress near Pasas Island (case 5). At 10am we were informed that they had safely reached the island, assisted by the Greek coastguards. We passed the Welcome to Greece info-guide by w2eu on to the group of travellers via WhatsApp.

At 12.53pm, activist colleagues of ours informed us about a group of 200 people who had stranded on the Greek island of Farmakonisi around midnight (case 6). Some of them were in need of medical attention, especially some of the older women and the children. We then reached out to the Leros Port Authority and they stated that the group should walk on and try to find the military doctor on the island. They stated that they would send a rescue vessel only if the doctor deemed that necessary. They also promised to inform military personnel on the island to look for the group. Afterwards we also informed the UNHCR about this case and they agreed to also get in touch with the authorities to organise transportation. At 3.45pm, the UNHCR confirmed that most people of the group had been picked up and transferred. The rest would be transferred in the following hours.
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