Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 23rd of February 2016Case name
: Alarm Phone alerted to 6 emergency situations in the Aegean SeaStatus of WTM Investigation
: Concluded Place of Incident
: Aegean SeaSummary 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.