Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 6th of December 2016Case name
: Travellers in distress between Libya and Italy, rescued by the Italian coast guardStatus of WTM Investigation
: ConcludedPlace of Incident
: Central Mediterranean SeaSummary of the Cases:
On Tuesday, the 6th of December 2016, The Alarm Phone was alerted, via Father Mussie Zerai, to two boats in distress in the Central Mediterranean Sea. In both cases Father Mussie Zerai had already informed the Italian coast guard.
At 3.54am we learned about the first vessel, carrying 156 people, and we were forwarded their satellite phone number and their position, showing that they were north east of Tripoli. The vessel had departed from around Tripoli between 1 and 2am. By monitoring the credit on the satellite phone, our shift team could see that the boat was in regular contact with others. We recharged the credit several times, which allowed the travellers to continue making calls. At 4.55am we informed the Italian coast guard about the vessel via email. At 5.20am we reached the travellers for the first time, and they gave us a new position, showing that the vessel has moved further north. We immediately called the Italian coast guard and passed on the new coordinates of the boat, and they informed us that they are working on the case. At 7.20am we spoke with the travellers again, and again we obtained a new position, which we passed on to the Italian coast guard. The new position showed, that the vessel was now heading west, indicating that the vessel had lost its direction. At 8.35am we passed on the information we had to the Maltese coast guard; they took the information, but stated later on that the Italian coast guard was responsible for this rescue operation. From around 9.30am we could no longer reach the travellers, and by monitoring their credit we could see that they were also not in contact with others.
At 11.25 Father Mussie Zerai alerted us to a second vessel in distress on its way from Libya to Italy. He didn’t know their exact position, but forwarded their satellite phone number. At 11.36am we reached the travellers, but communication was almost impossible. Their phone was almost out of credit, so we recharged it to allow them to make calls, and by monitoring their credit we could see that they were regularly in contact with others. At 12.28am we reached the boat again, and this time we learned that they were a group of around 100 travellers, amongst them women and children, travelling on a white plastic boat. We also managed to get their position. After this call we immediately called the Italian coast guard and passed on the coordinates of the vessel, and they informed us that they were searching for the vessel. From around 2.30pm it was no longer possible to reach the travellers, and their credit stopped decreasing.
In both cases the Italian coast guard refused to give us information about the rescue operation, but in the evening we found a newspaper article stating that 473 travellers had been rescued by the Italian coast guard today in five different rescue operations.
Last update: 16:48 Jan 15, 2017