Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 13th of January 2017Case name
: Alarm Phone alerted to one boat in distress in the Central MedStatus of WTM Investigation
: Concluded Place of Incident
: Central Mediterranean SeaSummary of the Case:
On Friday the 13th of January 2017, our WatchTheMed Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by Father Zerai at 3.31pm to a boat in distress in the Central Mediterranean Sea, carrying about 90 people. We tried to reach them on their Thuraya satellite phone but were unable to get through. We checked their Thuraya credit and saw that they had enough credit to make several distress calls. At 4.30pm we informed the crew of the Aquarius humanitarian vessel about the situation. At 5.10pm we were able to speak to the travellers. We were unable to find out where they had left from and what their current GPS position was. We found out that they were wearing lifejackets and were able to see some fishing vessels in the vicinity.
We spoke to the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome at 5.20pm and passed on the information we had. We reconnected with the traveller at 5.30pm and they stated that they were about 75 people. Later we learned that they were about 90 people. At 6.30pm we spoke to them again and instructed them how to find their GPS position. They also informed us that they could see a big vessel nearby which, however, was not reacting to their calls for help. At 6.35pm they told us that they had departed from Sabratha 9 hours earlier.
At 6.50pm they finally passed on their GPS position to us which we passed on to MRCC Rome. At 7.37pm, MRCC Rome thanked us for the provided information and told us that rescue operations were ongoing. At 7.45pm we received an updated position from the travellers which we passed on to MRCC Rome. The travellers also confirmed that they had been approached by a speed boat and been asked about the number of people on board. Afterwards we were not able to reach the boat anymore.
At 10pm, MRCC Rome confirmed that the boat had been rescued and all people on board were safe. On the day, about 550 people were rescued in the Central Mediterranean Sea, and two dead bodies were recovered.