18/03: Boat in the CM catches fire, number of casualties unknown.

<b>Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 18th March 2021</b>
<i>Case name</i>: 2021_03_18-CM385
<i>Situation</i>: Alarm Phone alerted a boat which caught fire in the Central Med. After hours the survivors were b…

<b>Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 18th March 2021</b> <i>Case name</i>: 2021_03_18-CM385 <i>Situation</i>: Alarm Phone alerted a boat which caught fire in the Central Med. After hours the survivors were brought back to Libya. <i>Status of WTM Investigation</i>: Concluded <i>Place of Incident</i>: Central Mediterranean <i>Summary of the case:</i> In the night of the 18th of March 2021, the Alarm Phone shift team received a direct call from a wooden boat in the Central Mediterranean Sea. The travellers had left from Zuwara at 20.00 CET the previous evening. They told us that one engine had caught fire and that they therefore were in urgent distress. We immediately tried calling the so-called Libyan coastguard, but were not able to reach them. We then tried to reach the Italian and Maltese coastguards, but also had problems connecting with them. Only at 03.07 CET did we manage to give the information to the Italian coastguard via phone. However, they denied that it was their responsibility. At 03.32 CET we sent an email to the relevant authorities, as well as UNHCR and rescue NGOs alerting them to the urgent situation of the travellers. In the meantime, we stayed in contact with the travellers and some of their relatives who were on land. From relatives we learned that one person onboard had been burned by the fire. According to the relative, however, the travellers had managed to throw the burning engine overboard and were therefore now adrift. The travellers themselves told us at 04.37 CET that water was entering their boat, and 20 minutes later we managed, for the first time, to get a position of the boat. We updated all authorities via email with the additional information we managed to gather. In a call with a relative at 04.57, the relative told us that the boat had started with around 100 people, but that about half of them had died already during the fire incident. We were not able to confirm this information directly with the boat. During the morning we were able to get updated positions from the boat, which we forwarded to the authorities. From staying in touch with the travellers, we could also follow as the situation deteriorated. At 09.26 we could see that the rescue NGO vessel Ocean Viking was heading towards the direction of the boat in distress. At 10.03 CET we last reached the travellers. However, we were not able to understand each other as people were shouting and panicking on the boat, and then the line broke off. At 10.54 CET we sent out the following <a href= “https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1372486592523345928” target=>tweet</a>: Alarm Phone was alerted during the night to about 70-100 people close to the Libyan coast off Zuwara. They are in panic as their boat seems to have caught on fire. Authorities are informed. Waste no time, help is urgently needed! At 12.05 we were informed that the so-called Libyan coastguard had rescued 45 travellers and brought them back to Libya. According to the so-called Libyan coastguard, there were five people missing after the incident, which differed a lot from the information we had received from the relative earlier. As we never managed to speak to the travellers again, we were not able to establish the correct number of people missing. We condemn the European migration politics, forcing people to embark on this deadly journey. All our solidarity is with the friends and families of those who have lost their lives, and with the survivors of this traumatic incident.

This post was originally published on Watch the Med.


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» 18/03: Boat in the CM catches fire, number of casualties unknown. | Watch the Med | Refugee Watch | https://www.refugee.watch/2021/03/19/18-03-boat-in-the-cm-catches-fire-number-of-casualties-unknown/ | 2022-09-30T16:18:11+00:00
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