16/12: Convoy of boats from Tangier in distress, 2 to Spain, 1 to Morocco, and 1 person missing

17.12.2017 / 14:59 / Western Mediterranean, Morocco/Spain

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 16th of December 2017

Case name: 2017_12_16-WM199
Situation: Alarm Phone alerted to several emergency situations in the Western Med
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Western Mediterranean Sea

Summary of the Case: On Saturday the 16th of December 2017, our Alarm Phone shift team was informed at 5.24am by a contact person in Morocco about three small boats that were trying to cross the Western Mediterranean, carrying 11, 6 and 6 people respectively. They had left at midnight (local Moroccan time) from Tangier and our contact person told us that their rubber boats were losing air. They did not have engines but only paddles. The last contact to the boat people was at 5am, and in the exchange the people had spoken about dramatically deteriorating weather conditions.

Our shift team was unable to reach the people directly, and so we contacted the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 5.51am. We were informed that SM was involved in search and rescue activities concerning 5 boats, approximately in the same area. They had rescued a small boat already, carrying 9 people. At 7.40am, SM confirmed that they had rescued two rubber boats, but it was not possible to verify whether these were the boats we had been alerted to.

At 11.24am, our contact person in Morocco stated that the boat with 11 people had returned to Morocco and the travellers were currently in a hospital. We informed SM about this a minute later, and they stated that they were still looking for a boat with 6 people, after just having rescued a boat with 7 people. At 11.41am we learned that on the boat that had returned to Morocco there had been 10 instead of 11 people, but one person went missing after he had gone overboard. Later we found out that the group had stranded at the harbour of Tangiers after they had not succeeded to get far out into the Strait of Gibraltar. Exhausted, they were unable to land their boat and were near a cliff. One person tried to climb it but fell into the water. They were then rescued by a small vessel from the harbour with a single captain, but one person remains missing.

SM later tweeted that they had rescued people from 5 boats. Later on, our contact person confirmed that the two other boats we had been alerted to were rescued to Spain.
Last update: 15:03 Dec 24, 2017
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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