20/03: 3 men swimming from Turkey towards Chios

21.03.2017 / 14:39 / Aegean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 20th of March 2017

Case name: 2017_03_20-AEG282
Situation: 3 men swimming from Turkey towards Chios
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Aegean Sea

Summary of the Cases: On Monday, the 20th of March 2017, at about 10pm, a contact person informed us about 3 men who had left Turkey around 7.30pm Greek time to try to reach Chios by swimming. They had reached a small Turkish island called Bogaz Adasi, which they had left again around 8pm, heading towards another small Turkish island called Sungkaya Adasi. The swimmers apparently thought that this island was Greek.

When the swimmers had left Bogaz Adasi, the contact person had lost touch with them and had alerted both the Turkish and the Greek Coastguard. The Coastguard had told our contact person that they couldn't do anything.

When we called the Turkish Coastguard at 10.12pm they told us that they had searched for the swimmers, but without success. We tried to call the number of the swimmers, but could not reach them. At 11:10pm, we sent another alert via email to both the Greek and the Turkish coastguard. Our contact person told us that a search and rescue operation involving several boats and a helicopter was ongoing.

Shortly after midnight, another contact person called us about the same case. We passed on all information we had. The second contact person told us that the men had tried to cross already 4 times by boat and that they had been intercepted each time.

On Tuesday, we called both coastguards and our contact person, but there were no news about the swimmers. We learned that 2 of them were Syrians, the third person was from Yemen. On Wednesday, the Turkish coastguard still continued to search for the swimmers, but without any result and without much hope to find them alive. A Greek newspaper reported about the case and the unsuccessful rescue operation.

One week later rumours circulated in Turkish and in social media, that the three swimmers actually survived. It was reported that they had managed to swim back to Turkey. We could not confirm this information, but hope that it is true.
Last update: 21:35 Apr 17, 2017
Credibility: UP DOWN 0
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  • 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