04. Dezember 2013 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Über 200 tote Bootsflüchtlinge, Rettung verweigert: Maltesische Armee will nicht antworten · Kategorien: Italien, Malta · Tags: , , ,


Delays that could have cost lives in Lampedusa tragedy

Armed Forces of Malta refuses to explain what happened between the time it received 1pm distress call from Rome, and 4pm when military plan located boat in distress on 11 October Lampedusa shipwreck

The Armed Forces of Malta is not willing to shed any light on a possible two to three-hour delay on the fatal 11 October shipwreck, which may explain why the Italian coast guard did not effect a faster and timelier rescue mission when it was first alerted to a boat in distress that would later result in the deaths of 268.

Just over 200 lives were saved by the Maltese and the Italians during the shipwreck.

It was the AFM that first located the boat at 4pm on 11 October, using its King Air aircraft – but that was three hours after the Italian coast guard informed the Maltese army with the coordinates of the boat in distress.

The army yesterday refused to explain at what time its Hawker Beechcraft King Air plane left Malta after Rome’s Coordination Centre passed on the rescue mission at 1:05pm.

A chronology of the events of the day as relayed by Admiral Felicio Angrisano to Italian weekly L’Espresso, has revealed that the Italians offloaded the responsibility for the search-and-rescue mission to Malta, when an Italian naval asset – the ITS Libra – was closer to the boat in distress.

Although the migrants‘ boat was located within Malta’s search and rescue zone, the boat was also 60 nautical miles (113km) south of Lampedusa island, and 218km from Malta.

What is unclear at this stage is whether Italy and Malta were collaborating with each other at that point when, at 1:05pm, the Italians decided to pass the buck to Malta.

While the Italians say they passed on the rescue coordination to Malta at 1:05pm, it is unclear as to what took place between this hour and the AFM’s location of the boat at 4pm. Admiral Angrisano says the time the King Air located the boat is at 4:22pm.

The AFM’s Hawker Beechcraft King Air 200 has a cruise speed of 333mph – suggesting it could have located the boat in distress earlier than at 4pm, unless it had trouble locating the boat’s coordinates.

According to L’Espresso, Italy’s Libra patrol boat – apart from the merchant vessels Stadt Bremerhaven and the Tyrusland, respectively carrying flags of the Marshall Islands and the United Kingdom – was already 27 miles away from the rescue point.

From data collected by Goldsmiths University’s oceanographic project, it is believed that the Libra – out on patrol to protect Italian fishermen from Libyan militias – could have made it to the rescue point within 90 minutes at its top speed of 37 km per hour.

What is sure is that the Italians did not despatch the Libra any sooner. In fact it was only after the AFM’s patrol boat P61 arrived on the scene at a time between 5:07pm and 5:15pm, that it alerted the Italians for assistance.

As confirmed by Admiral Angrisano, the Libra and Espero naval assets, as well as coast guard and Guardia fi Finanza, arrived on the scene soon after.

AFM spokesperson Keith Caruana yesterday told MaltaToday the Armed Forces did not have anything to add to its statements previously released to the media.

The questions MaltaToday wanted answered were:

1. At what time did the AFM receive a rescue call from Rome (RCC)? 

2. How many rescue calls did the AFM receive on 11 October, and were there any rescue calls from Thuraya phones belonging to the people on board?

3. At what time did the AFM dispatch its assets, both air and naval, to locate the boat in distress?

4. Did the AFM send out any calls for merchant vessels and other commercial boats to answer to the distress call – was there any response (which were the boats that answered, what were their actions)?

5. At what time did the AFM locate the boat? At what time did the patrol boat leave Malta to effect the rescue mission? At what time did it arrive?

6. At what time did the AFM request Rome to assist it in the rescue mission? Which were the boats that assisted the AFM?

Survivors of the 11 October shipwreck, mainly Syrian refugees, said that their boat was shot at by armed Libyan militias, a harrowing event which prompted the Libyan government to open an investigation.

It was this moment that Syrian physician Mohammed Jammo, 40, made contact with the Rome Coordination Centre at 12:26pm because it was visibly clear on the screens of three different GPS instruments on board, that Lampedusa was closer.

Jammo claims he called the RCC three times, and that Angrisano gave him the Maltese army’s telephone number.

Although at 1pm there was an opportunity to reach the boats by 3pm, with Italian military ships like the Libra already out at sea, the request to intervene was only passed to the Maltese at 1pm.

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