10/03: 2 boats in distress near Lesvos because of high waves

11.03.2016 / 13:18 / Aegean Sea

b>Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 10th of March 2016

Case name: 2016_03_10-AEG230
Situation: Alarm Phone alerted to 2 distress cases near Lesvos, in the Aegean Sea
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Aegean Sea

Summary of the Cases: On Thursday, the 10th of March 2016, we were alerted to 2 distress cases near Lesvos, in the Aegean Sea. The waves were high and the small boats of the travellers were in danger of capsizing. In both cases, the travellers were eventually picked up and brought to Greece. Another group of travellers, we were informed about decided not to leave Turkey, because of the bad weather conditions.

Case 1: At 00:49am, a contact person alerted us to a boat in distress with about 55 persons on board South-east of Lesvos. He had lost contact with them 35 minutes earlier and was worried, because the boat was not in a good condition and the waves were high. He provided us with a phone number, but we could not reach the travellers either. At 1:01am, a second person alerted us to the same case, saying that he had lost contact "with the rubber boat" 40 min ago. The first contact person asked us to inform the Greek Coastguard and then the Turkish Coastguard. We asked for more information and our contact told us that the travellers were 40 adults (half men and half women) and 15 children. At 1:25am we talked to the Greek coastguards and passed on all the information we had. As we expected they were sceptical, because the coordinates were a bit old, but nevertheless, they seemed willing to take on the case. We also sent them an e-mail with the details of the case. At 1.45am, we tried to reach out to the boat again, but the phone did not even ring. At 2:18am, the first contact person sent us a message to inform us that a boat had picked up the travellers and brought them to Mytilene/Lesvos. He confirmed that all travellers were fine. We passed on the good news to the second contact person.

Case 2: At 2.45am, contact persons informed us about a boat in distress in Turkish waters, not far from the Turkish-Greek sea border. We were told that 40 travellers were on the boat and that the boat was in urgent danger of capsizing. We called the boat repeatedly, but every time we were directed to a voicemail. We asked our contact person what exactly the problem was on board and she told us that the waves were too high for the boat. She stressed that they wanted us to get in touch with the Turkish Coastguards immediately. At 3.00am, we reached the Turkish coastguard after several attempts. The officer on duty told us that they already knew about the case. Between 3 and 4am, we stayed in touch with the contact person, but she did not have any news from the travellers. At 4.00am, we called the Turkish coastguard again. They said that they were still working on the case. They had not reached the boat yet. When we asked if we could call again in 45 minutes they said that we should call back in 2 hours. At 4.37am, we called them again and they explained that they had gone to the location but had not found the boat. They said that the boat had maybe reached Greek territorial waters. They said that they had concluded the operation. We tried to get updates from our contact person but she did not respond to our messages anymore. At 2:45pm, the contact person finally confirmed that the Greek Coastguard had rescued the boat and that all travellers had arrived safely in Greece.
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

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