20/02: 33 travellers intercepted to Morocco

21.02.2018 / 15:45 / Western Mediterranean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 20th of February 2018

Case name: 2018_02_20-WM209
Situation: 33 travellers intercepted to Morocco
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Western mediterranean Sea

Summary of the Case:

On Tuesday, 20th of February, at 10:30am, we were alerted to a boat in distress carrying 33 people, among them 5 women and 3 children. The boat had left towards Spain from around Nador at 5:30am CET and was in distress due to a hole in the boat. We couldn’t establish a direct connection to the boat. At 10:53am we called the Spanish rescue authority Salvamento Maritimo in Almería and informed them about the boat. We also sent an email to all respective authorities to document the alert. Salvamento Maritimo replied shortly after that a Search and Rescue Operation (SAR) had been launched and that the Moroccan Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) in Rabat had been informed as well.
At 11:09am we reached the travellers. The people on board reported about water entering the boat. We tried to locate the boat by GPS position or by indications of their surrounding. At 11:53 we called Salvamento Maritimo again, but there were no news on the SAR progress.
At 12:40am the contact person managed to establish a connection to the boat and informed us that the situation on board was getting more severe and some people were in the water already. At 12:50am we called Salvamento in Almería again to emphasize the urgency of the SAR operation. Salvamento replied that the distress would be in Moroccan waters and they wouldn’t be able to do anything. We called the MRCC in Madrid that already had been informed about the boat in distress and confirmed that they would search with an aircraft and a naval asset for the boat.
In the ongoing we tried to talk to the travellers again, but we couldn’t establish a proper connection.
One the webpage marinetraffic.com we observed two aerial and one naval asset of Salvamento searching the area. At 02:05pm we called MRCC Madrid again. They confirmed that their aircraft had localised a boat carrying 37 people and that the rescue boat would be close to the position already. At the same time they mentioned a second boat in distress in the same area, so they couldn’t identify if the boat spotted was our case. At 03:15 we called Salvamento Maritimo in Almeria that informed us that a boat with 37 people had been rescued to Spain and a second boat carrying 33 persons, possibly carrying 5 women and 3 children, had been intercepted by the Moroccan Marine Royale.
We didn’t reach the travellers again, but managed to confirm via contacts in Morocco that they had been intercepted by Moroccan forces. They had been brought to the police and then pushed-back further to the south.
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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