06/12: Shipwreck off the Moroccan coast, 2 survivors, 6 bodies, 5 people remain missing

<b>Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 6th December 2020</b>
<i>Case name</i>: 2020_12_23-WMxxx
<i>Situation</i>: Boat leaving from Tan Tan with 13 travellers capsized. Five people remain missing.
<i>Status of WTM Investigation</i>: Concluded
<i>Place of Incident</i>: Western Mediterranean
<i>Summary</i>
On Sunday the 6th of December at 00.18 CET the Alarm Phone was alerted by a relative to a rubber boat carrying 13 travellers, including two women and a baby. The travellers had left from Tan Tan on Thursday at around 04.00 and from the position the relative forwarded us we could see that the travellers were close to the Moroccan coast, 8nm from Akhfennir. It is rare on this route that travellers manage to send their position to people on land as most of the area between the north / west African coast and the Canary Islands does not have phone or internet coverage. Shortly after the travellers had left they encountered problems with the engine. We tried many times to reach the travellers but never managed to establish a direct contact to the boat. We also attempted to reach the Moroccan maritime rescue coordination centre several times during the night without success. At 01.10 we called the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo and passed on the information we had. We further forwarded all information, including position, via email to both Spanish and Moroccan rescue authorities. At 07.30 we managed to reach the Moroccan rescue coordination centre, who confirmed that a search operation was ongoing but that they had not found anything so far. We spoke to them again at 09.05 and 10.04, in both calls they had no news about the travellers. Neither we nor the relative were able to reach the travellers; the last time the relative had spoken to the boat was at 01.00 the same morning. At 12.30 we once more spoke to the Moroccan authorities. They confirmed that they were still searching but had no news so far. At 15.35 we called the Salvamento Maritimo who told us that the Moroccan navy had rescued two people from the boat and retrieved two bodies whilst the remaining nine travellers were missing. The officer informed us that Salvamento Maritimo was still searching for the missing travellers. After this we again attempted to reach the Moroccan rescue authorities but were not able to get through until 16.50 when they confirmed the information that two people had died and nine people were missing. They also confirmed that local authorities were searching for the missing people.
At 18.45 we were contacted by a relative whose son and wife had been on the boat. He told us that he had alerted the Moroccan rescue authorities already at 23.00 on the 5th of December with the position of the boat, but according to him the Moroccan authorities had done nothing to intervene. At this time, the relative told us, his wife said that she had not eaten for three days, but that everyone onboard the boat was still okay. However, they had a problem with the engine and had therefore drifted back towards Morocco, which was the reason they had phone reception at this time. They wanted to be rescued and had also called the Moroccan rescue authorities directly themselves and given them their position already at 22.00.
The relative was obviously devastated after this tragedy and expressed his hurt in several calls to the Alarm Phone. In a testimony to the Alarm Phone the relative stated:
“I want to denounce the Moroccan authorities.
I witnessed the scene from the beginning until now.
They saw them die with their eyes and did nothing to save them.
I did everything, I told them sorry but there’s a baby in the boat, they didn’t do anything.
I sent the location to the Moroccan navy at 11pm and they didn’t move their ship.

If it had been a Moroccan convoy they would hurry to go and get them from the water.
It is a country of racism
In this country I have already lost a lot of my friends at sea.”

At 20.49 we tweeted about the shipwreck, see: https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1335672523455942656?s=12

The following day at 15.40 the relative who initially alerted us to the distress case told us that the survivors had been taken to the hospital in Laayoune.
We called the Moroccan rescue authorities to ask for news about the missing travellers. They told us that they had no news and that we should call Salvamento Maritimo. However, when we called Salvamento Maritimo they told us that they were waiting for an update from the Moroccan authorities.

We later got the information that the two survivors were being detained in Tarafaya, and that people on the ground were prevented from talking to them as they, according to Moroccan authorities, were under investigation. From people on the ground visiting the morgue we learned that six bodies had been found, including that of a baby. However, identification of the bodies was not possible as they had started to decompose, and the authorities would not allow pictures to be taken and forwarded to relatives.

Once again, we see how the European border kills, and once again we witness the very real consequences of the closed borders which tear families apart and cause immense human suffering. Our thoughts are with the friends and families of the victims of this devastating tragedy and with the survivors who had to go through this horrible experience and who we fear are still not safe in Morocco, the place they attempted to leave. We will continue to stand in solidarity with everyone who has to cross this deadly border and is denied access to a safe way of doing so.

<b>Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 6th December 2020</b> <i>Case name</i>: 2020_12_23-WMxxx <i>Situation</i>: Boat leaving from Tan Tan with 13 travellers capsized. Five people remain missing. <i>Status of WTM Investigation</i>: Concluded <i>Place of Incident</i>: Western Mediterranean <i>Summary</i> On Sunday the 6th of December at 00.18 CET the Alarm Phone was alerted by a relative to a rubber boat carrying 13 travellers, including two women and a baby. The travellers had left from Tan Tan on Thursday at around 04.00 and from the position the relative forwarded us we could see that the travellers were close to the Moroccan coast, 8nm from Akhfennir. It is rare on this route that travellers manage to send their position to people on land as most of the area between the north / west African coast and the Canary Islands does not have phone or internet coverage. Shortly after the travellers had left they encountered problems with the engine. We tried many times to reach the travellers but never managed to establish a direct contact to the boat. We also attempted to reach the Moroccan maritime rescue coordination centre several times during the night without success. At 01.10 we called the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo and passed on the information we had. We further forwarded all information, including position, via email to both Spanish and Moroccan rescue authorities. At 07.30 we managed to reach the Moroccan rescue coordination centre, who confirmed that a search operation was ongoing but that they had not found anything so far. We spoke to them again at 09.05 and 10.04, in both calls they had no news about the travellers. Neither we nor the relative were able to reach the travellers; the last time the relative had spoken to the boat was at 01.00 the same morning. At 12.30 we once more spoke to the Moroccan authorities. They confirmed that they were still searching but had no news so far. At 15.35 we called the Salvamento Maritimo who told us that the Moroccan navy had rescued two people from the boat and retrieved two bodies whilst the remaining nine travellers were missing. The officer informed us that Salvamento Maritimo was still searching for the missing travellers. After this we again attempted to reach the Moroccan rescue authorities but were not able to get through until 16.50 when they confirmed the information that two people had died and nine people were missing. They also confirmed that local authorities were searching for the missing people. At 18.45 we were contacted by a relative whose son and wife had been on the boat. He told us that he had alerted the Moroccan rescue authorities already at 23.00 on the 5th of December with the position of the boat, but according to him the Moroccan authorities had done nothing to intervene. At this time, the relative told us, his wife said that she had not eaten for three days, but that everyone onboard the boat was still okay. However, they had a problem with the engine and had therefore drifted back towards Morocco, which was the reason they had phone reception at this time. They wanted to be rescued and had also called the Moroccan rescue authorities directly themselves and given them their position already at 22.00. The relative was obviously devastated after this tragedy and expressed his hurt in several calls to the Alarm Phone. In a testimony to the Alarm Phone the relative stated: “I want to denounce the Moroccan authorities. I witnessed the scene from the beginning until now. They saw them die with their eyes and did nothing to save them. I did everything, I told them sorry but there's a baby in the boat, they didn't do anything. I sent the location to the Moroccan navy at 11pm and they didn't move their ship. … If it had been a Moroccan convoy they would hurry to go and get them from the water. It is a country of racism In this country I have already lost a lot of my friends at sea.” At 20.49 we tweeted about the shipwreck, see: https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1335672523455942656?s=12 The following day at 15.40 the relative who initially alerted us to the distress case told us that the survivors had been taken to the hospital in Laayoune. We called the Moroccan rescue authorities to ask for news about the missing travellers. They told us that they had no news and that we should call Salvamento Maritimo. However, when we called Salvamento Maritimo they told us that they were waiting for an update from the Moroccan authorities. We later got the information that the two survivors were being detained in Tarafaya, and that people on the ground were prevented from talking to them as they, according to Moroccan authorities, were under investigation. From people on the ground visiting the morgue we learned that six bodies had been found, including that of a baby. However, identification of the bodies was not possible as they had started to decompose, and the authorities would not allow pictures to be taken and forwarded to relatives. Once again, we see how the European border kills, and once again we witness the very real consequences of the closed borders which tear families apart and cause immense human suffering. Our thoughts are with the friends and families of the victims of this devastating tragedy and with the survivors who had to go through this horrible experience and who we fear are still not safe in Morocco, the place they attempted to leave. We will continue to stand in solidarity with everyone who has to cross this deadly border and is denied access to a safe way of doing so.

This post was originally published on Watch the Med.


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» 06/12: Shipwreck off the Moroccan coast, 2 survivors, 6 bodies, 5 people remain missing | Watch the Med | Refugee Watch | https://www.refugee.watch/2020/12/07/06-12-shipwreck-off-the-moroccan-coast-2-survivors-6-bodies-5-people-remain-missing/ | 2023-01-28T09:34:38+00:00
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