14/11: Alarm Phone in contact with a group of 35 travellers stranded on Samos island

15.11.2017 / 00:25 / Aegean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 14th of November 2017

Case name: 2017_11_14-AEG318
Situation: Alarm Phone in contact with a group stranded on Samos island
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Aegean Sea

Summary of the Case: On Tuesday the 14th of November 2017 at 10.26pm, a contact person alerted the Alarm Phone to a group of 35 travellers who had stranded on the Greek island of Samos and provided us with their phone number. At 10.38pm, we wrote to the travellers and asked them if they were in need of help. At 10.43pm, we talked to them directly and were told that they were 20 adults and 15 children, including a pregnant woman, a 1 month old baby and a person with heart problems. They had crashed into the rocks of the island and some people had fallen into the water and were wet and injured. They forwarded an updated GPS position to us and at 10.45pm we immediately called the Greek coastguard in Piraeus and forwarded all information we had received so far. At 11pm, we wrote an email to the Greek coastguard and to the UNHCR in Greece as well. 20 minutes later, we talked again to the travellers and learned they had also informed the authorities by themselves. Afterwards, we tried to speak to the local police and to the port authorities on Samos as well as to the medical team of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on the island, but did not reach them via phone. At 11.45pm, we received a voice-massage from the travellers, indicating that a small vessel had approached the coast and had pointed its lights on them, without talking or in any other way interacting with them. After several failed attempts, at 0.12am, we finally reached the fire brigade on the Greek island of Samos, and learned that they were already searching for the travellers since two hours, in order to forward their position to the port authorities. At 0.14am, the travellers told us that they had started to walk in the mountains, but that they were too much freezing in their wet clothes. At 0.22am, they provided us with an updated position, which we immediately forwarded to the island’s fire brigade. The firemen asked us to urge the travellers to go back to the shore, as they could not be found in the woody mountains. At 0.36am, we talked again to the travellers and tried to convince them to go back to the beach, but they were afraid that they might be picked up and brought back to Turkey. In another call with the travellers at 2.12am, they told us that the group had split up into two groups, with one having made a fire on a mountain and another being at the shore again. At 2.23am, the Samos fire brigade told us that they had stopped their search for the night. In another call with the Greek coastguard in Piraeus at 2.42am, they explained to us that they had seen the light of the group’s fire, but that it was too difficult to organize a rescue from that place during the night. They promised to re-start their rescue operation at 6.30am in the morning of the next day. At 5.23am, we received a new phone number of the travellers and an updated GPS position, which we forwarded to the Greek coastguard in Piraeus. At 5.44am, we talked to the Samos port police, who had just been informed about the case and had started working on it. At 6.05am, the travellers forwarded a new position to us, which we forwarded to the Samos port police immediately afterwards. At 6.36am, the travellers called us again, stating that they had forgotten to mention that the mother with her baby were still at the beach; an information that we also forwarded to the authorities. At 7.30am, our contact person forwarded the latest GPS position of the travellers to us and informed us that one group of 20 people was walking on a street, while 10 persons, including the baby, were still at the beach. At 8am, we talked again to the Samos port authority and forwarded the latest positions. We were told that both the port authorities and the police were aware that the group had split into two groups. In the following two hours, we did not receive any updates on the case, but in another call at 10.15am, the Samos port authority confirmed to us that the fire brigade had found the group with 21 travellers on the road. In another call with the fire brigade at 10.30am, they confirmed to us that they had found both groups, in total 35 people. At 12.51am, we talked to the solidarity group Samos Volunteers, who had only heard about a group of about 20 people arriving at Samos during the night, but they promised to double-check on the second part of the group. In another call with them at 5.35pm, they confirmed to us that all 35 persons, including the mother and her baby, had been rescued and brought to the registration processing centre on the island.
Last update: 10:55 Dec 09, 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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