At least 366 people dead in wreck 1 km from Lampedusa

03.10.2013 / 05:01 / Lampedusa, Italy

In the early hours of the 3rd of October, a boat approximately 15m long which had left from Misrata in Libya carrying more than 500 migrants mostly from Somalia and Eritrea, arrived around 1km off the coast of Lampedusa , near the “Conigli” island, located 4km from the port (white square).
The survivors claim that as they arrived close to the coast, 2-3 fisher boats passed near the people in distress without assisting them. According to one source, it seems that at around 3.30 AM one boat with its lights off came very close to the migrants’ boat but did not intervene.
Shortly before dawn, the passengers decided to burn a cover on the deck in the attempt to attract the attention of other vessels they were seeing in the distance, however the fire quickly spread. The sudden movement of the large number of passengers to escape the fire made the boat capsize and sink.
A group of tourists who had slept overnight on board the boat “Gamar” anchored in the Tabaccara bay near the place of the incident heard the cries for help and rushed to rescue the migrants who were trying to swim to the coast. While they managed to rescue 47 migrants, they quickly realised there were many more and called the Coast Guard. While the tourists claim that their calls have been made no later than 6.30/6.40 but that Coast Guard arrived only at 7.30, the Coast Guard affirms that their responded to the VHF SOS which was made at 7 and that they arrived on spot before 7.20. The Italian border police as well as other fishermen quickly joined the rescue operation.

As of the 7 October, 155 people were rescued, 211 dead bodies have been recovered. The remaining passengers are still missing. More than 350 people may thus have perished in this incident, making it the most deadly known wreck of a migrants’ boat in the last years.

Many questions remain open as to the nature of the events including:
- why was this boat not detected by the very dense surveillance apparatus that surrounds the island of Lampedusa (several coastal radars (coverage in orange on map), the numerous patrol boats of the Coast Guard and Border Police (patrol area indicated by black line), maritime surveillance aircrafts, with these means partly financed and coordinated by Frontex) ?
- who are the seafarers who came in proximity to the migrants but failed in their obligation to rescue them?
- how long did it take for the Coast Guard to reach the site? If the rescue operation was delayed, why?
Last update: 15:24 Dec 05, 2013
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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