11. April 2015 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Alarm Phone Report: 1000 boat-people rescued · Kategorien: Alarm Phone, Italien, Libyen · Tags:


Alarm Call from the Central Med, almost a 1000 people rescued

11.04.2015 / 15:44 / Central Mediterranean Sea, Off the coast of Libya

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigation – 10th of April 2015

Case name: 2015_04_10-CM10
Situation: 600-1000 people in distress off the coast of Libya
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded (last update 11.04.2015)
Place of Incident: Central Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Libya

Summary of the Case: On Friday the 10th of April 2015, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by Father Mussie Zerai to a vessel in distress in the Central Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Libya. He suggested that the vessel had left Libya at 7.15am in the morning with about 600 passengers on board, including many children and women. Father Zerai forwarded the details to the shift team as well as MRCC Rome, including the coordinates of the vessel and a satellite phone number.

The shift team got in contact with the passengers on the vessel at 13:04h. Communication was difficult due to language barriers but we were able to pass on the information that Father Zerai had already notified MRCC Rome. We understood that there was a problem with water coming into the vessel and ensured the passengers that we would call back. The shift team then contacted MRCC Rome and passed on the satellite phone number as well as the coordinates. MRCC Rome did not clearly indicate what they would do with the provided information and merely suggested that they would look into the case. When the shift team reached out to the passengers on the vessel again they understood that there was a problem with the engine. Passengers also passed on their latest location. The shift team then forwarded the new coordinates to the Italian and Maltese coastguards, as well as the UNHCR. In a phone conversation with the Maltese coastguard it emerged that they knew about the case. They stated that the vessel was close to the Libyan coast and that they would speak to the Italian coastguard. They did not suggest whether or not they would conduct a rescue operation.

The shift team spoke to the passengers again and retrieved new coordinates. The passengers asked repeatedly for help. With the coordinates a trajectory of the vessel could be created, showing that the vessel was moving north. The passengers then called one of the shift team members, asking again for help and stating that they had seen a plane. The shift team informed them that they had contacted both the Maltese and Italian coastguards. In another phone conversation with the MRCC Rome, new coordinates were passed on. First they were reluctant to inform us whether or not a rescue operation was taking place and later they stated that a helicopter and rescue vessels were on their way. The number of the MRCC Rome was then passed on to the people in distress.

In the afternoon, Father Zerai notified the shift team that he had been contacted by the passengers once again. They had told him that no rescue had occurred, no helicopter had been seen, and that the situation was getting more and more dangerous as part of the vessel was damaged. He sent another email to MRCC Rome, urging them to rescue. He also asked Alarm Phone members to do the same to prompt rescue services to engage. One of the shift team members was contacted again by the people in distress but due to loud noises in the background, communication was not possible.

Alarm Phone members notified the public, via social media, to contact MRCC Rome and demand a rescue mission. At 6pm the UNHCR sent an email to the Alarm Phone, stating that MRCC Rome had confirmed a rescue operation. Father Zerai passed on new coordinates that he had obtained from the passengers which were then passed on to MRCC Rome. Around 7pm the MRCC Rome responded to those who had sent emails to them, stating that the vessel in questions would be in Libyan territory and outside of the Italian Search and Rescue (SAR) zone. They suggested that a SAR operation was in progress and that the several emails sent were unhelpful as they would potentially block the operational email address of MRCC Rome, possibly interfering with the SAR operation. In response, the Alarm Phone accepted the official confirmation of the rescue operation and asked via social media to cease sending emails to MRCC Rome.

On Saturday the 11th of April, the Italian coastguard then released a statement stating that they had conducted three rescue operations on Friday, rescuing almost a thousand people in distress. It said that the vessel was located about 30 miles off the coast of Libya and several merchant ships as well as a patrol boat were sent to the location. Following the press release, the Italian marine also participated in the rescue operation and took on board 222 migrants, including a deceased person. The people rescued were taken to the port of Augusta and to the Porto Empedocle, both in Italy.

Last update: 16:50 Apr 11, 2015


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