Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 24th of February 2017Case name
: 100 persons in distress on rubber boat in the Central MediterraneanStatus of WTM Investigation
: Concluded Place of Incident
: Central Mediterranean SeaSummary of the Case:
On Friday, the 24th of February 2017, at 7am, our WatchTheMed Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by Father Zerai to 100 persons in distress on a rubber boat in the Central Mediterranean Sea. They had started their journey to Italy the night before near Al Khums, Libya at 11pm local time. When they called us, they had spent already 9 hours at sea. We immediately informed the Italian Coastguard about the case, telling them that we had not yet received a GPS position. At 7.50am, the travellers sent us their position, which we forwarded immediately to the Coastguard. We also told the Coastguard that the travellers were running out of fuel and that they could see no boats in vicinity.
In the following hours, we stayed in touch with the travellers, keeping track of their position and their phone credit, which we recharged. We also regularly called the Italian Coastguard, who promised us that they were working on the case. At 10.30 we sent an e-mail to the Coastguard, urging them once again to become active, as the travellers were increasingly nervous, because they were facing high waves and water was entering the boat. Also we asked the Coastguard about a fishing boat, in vicinity of the boat in distress, which we had spotted earlier on vesselfinder.
The Coastguard explained to us that they had in the morning ordered two patrol vessels to the position as well as a military vessel, but that they were still far away from the travellers. The Coastguard had also alerted fishing boats nearby to go check on the travellers in distress, but they had not responded to the alerts. At 12pm, the Coastguard told us that the first rescue vessel would only arrive around 2pm. The travellers called us several times with updates on their position, they were moving northwestwards. From 2.40 onwards, we could not reach the travellers anymore. At 5pm, the Italian Coastguard eventually informed us that the rescue operation was on-going. At 6pm, they confirmed that all people had been rescued and at 8pm that they had safely arrived in Lampedusa, Italy.
Last update: 11:00 Mar 24, 2017