14/01 Alarm Phone alerted to one vessel in distress in the Central Med, more than 100 deaths

15.01.2017 / 11:08 / Central Mediterranean Sea, Libya

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

Case name: 2017_01_14-CM98
Situation: Alarm Phone alerted to one boat in distress in the Central Med
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Central Mediterranean Sea

Summary of the Case: On Saturday the 14th of January 2017, our WatchTheMed Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by Father Zerai at 5.43am to a vessel in distress in the Central Mediterranean Sea, carrying over a hundred people. In the following hours, we tried to reach the travellers repeatedly on their Thuraya satellite phone, but we could not get through. The Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) informed us at 12.22pm that they were searching for the boat but they were unwilling to pass on any further information. Again at 6.48pm, MRCC Rome stated that they were working on the case, without providing specific information. Then the news broke in the media about a tragedy in the Central Mediterranean (source 1).

MRCC Rome still refused to provide further information when we spoke to them at 10.05pm, as well as in the morning of Sunday the 15th of January. Father Zerai then confirmed to us what we had already feared: the boat that we had tried to reach the day before had capsized. There were more than 100 people on the boat, and only a few survived. At 11.45am, MRCC Rome also confirmed that the boat had capsized, with only 3 men and 1 woman surviving.
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

Related Reports

10:26 Oct 12, 2017 / Central Mediterranean Sea Kms
11/10: 91 travellers rescued by the Italian coast guard
13:07 Feb 14, 2015 / Approximately 40NM off Tripoli and 120 NM off Lampedusa Kms
More than 300 people on four rubber vessels die in the Central Mediterranean Sea
16:47 Oct 21, 2016 / Central Mediterranean Sea, Libya Kms
20/10 Alarm Phone alerted to one vessel in distress in the Central Med, rescued
17:38 Jun 08, 2015 / Off the coast of Libya Kms
Large group of Syrian refugees in distress in the Central Med, rescued
18:36 Aug 23, 2014 / Approximately 120 miles south off the Coast of Lampedusa Kms
28 Deaths south off the Coast of Lampedusa