24/02: About 100 persons in distress on rubber boat in the Central Mediterranean

23.02.2017 / 10:15 / Central Mediterranean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 24th of February 2017

Case name: 2017_02_24-CM101
Situation: 100 persons in distress on rubber boat in the Central Mediterranean
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Central Mediterranean Sea

Summary of the Case: On Friday, the 24th of February 2017, at 7am, our WatchTheMed Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by Father Zerai to 100 persons in distress on a rubber boat in the Central Mediterranean Sea. They had started their journey to Italy the night before near Al Khums, Libya at 11pm local time. When they called us, they had spent already 9 hours at sea. We immediately informed the Italian Coastguard about the case, telling them that we had not yet received a GPS position. At 7.50am, the travellers sent us their position, which we forwarded immediately to the Coastguard. We also told the Coastguard that the travellers were running out of fuel and that they could see no boats in vicinity.
In the following hours, we stayed in touch with the travellers, keeping track of their position and their phone credit, which we recharged. We also regularly called the Italian Coastguard, who promised us that they were working on the case. At 10.30 we sent an e-mail to the Coastguard, urging them once again to become active, as the travellers were increasingly nervous, because they were facing high waves and water was entering the boat. Also we asked the Coastguard about a fishing boat, in vicinity of the boat in distress, which we had spotted earlier on vesselfinder.
The Coastguard explained to us that they had in the morning ordered two patrol vessels to the position as well as a military vessel, but that they were still far away from the travellers. The Coastguard had also alerted fishing boats nearby to go check on the travellers in distress, but they had not responded to the alerts. At 12pm, the Coastguard told us that the first rescue vessel would only arrive around 2pm. The travellers called us several times with updates on their position, they were moving northwestwards. From 2.40 onwards, we could not reach the travellers anymore. At 5pm, the Italian Coastguard eventually informed us that the rescue operation was on-going. At 6pm, they confirmed that all people had been rescued and at 8pm that they had safely arrived in Lampedusa, Italy.
Last update: 11:00 Mar 24, 2017
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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