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Pushback Ongoing Involving 400+ People

Yesterday morning Aegean Boat Report was contacted by a large group of people on a cargo ship drifting south of Ierapetra, Crete south. People onboard estimated that there are between 300-400 people onboard.

The boat was heading towards Italy, but due to bad weather and engine problems they headed towards Crete, where the engine stoped working.

They sent pictures, videos, sound messages and location data, and there is no doubt that the boat was drifting between Ierapetra and the small island of Chrisi.

People onboard call 112 and alerted the Hellenic coast guard, and shortly after a vessel from HCG was on the scene. HCG vessel ΛΣ 070 can be seen on pictures and videos sent from the people onboard.

Strangely enough local newspapers have written about the emergency south of Crete, but have been informed by port police officials on Crete that they have searched for the boat but not found anything in the area, this is highly suspicious, especially since we can definitely prove that the ΛΣ 070, belonging to the Hellenic coast guard, is on location. So basically the Greek coast guard is lying to the press, and we can see no other reason than that they are trying to cover up another pushback.

Yesterday afternoon we received videos and pictures of the boat being towed by the Hellenic coast guard, and we assumed that they would take the boat to port on Crete, unfortunately this seems not to be the case.

Late last night we received location south east of Crete, and this morning we can see the boat heading north east towards Turkey. The plan might be to take them to Rhodes, but we believe that this boat will be set adrift in Turkish waters near Datça, Turkey, hopefully we are mistaken.

In pictures we can see Special forces personnel have boarded the cargo ship and taken control over the bridge, nobody is allowed to the area, special forces is heavily armed.

The boat has a steady course towards Turkey, and if nothing is done this will be the biggest single pushback performed by the Greek coast guard ever registered. We call on the international community to intervene, this madness can no longer continue.

We also call on EU politicians and member states to to contact the greek government to try to put an end to this, the time to act is now!

Update 11.30

The tow have now stoped outside the island of Kasos, people onbord are anxious, they dont know what will happen to them.

Update 13.15

The boat is now being towed due north east, people onboard have gotten no reassurance that they will be taken to a Greek island, and are very worried.

“Everyone here is from Afghanistan, we are all human, world should help us, for God sake please help us!”

Update 14.30

Only contact is a new location, no other information received.

Update 15.40

Update 18.30

Update 19.00

It seems like this case will not end up in a pushback, and the Hellenic coast guard now say that they will find a safe port for the cargo ship. “Right now, the important thing is to get the ship to a safe anchorage,” an official with knowledge of the operation told The Associated Press.

It`s perhaps a bit odd the port police told CNN yesterday afternoon that they hadn`t found the boat, when we have pictures and video of HCG being on location at 08.30. Also a bit strang to be looking for a safe port, towing the vessel from Crete to an for now unknown location. Perhaps more likely that this case got a bit more atention than they had in mind in the first place, and that they due to publick pressure had to change thir initial plan.

Aegean Boat Report happy that this large group will not be pushed back, and will be given the opportunity to apply for asylum.

Update 22.00

People have been onboard for four days, and still, after being towed since yesterday noon, they have received no food, no water and no medical attention. One man unconscious, two others also very sick.

The Hellenic Coast Guard have now turned around, it looks like they are heading towards Karpathos harbor. There seems to be no plan on where to take the people on this boat, when their initial plan to push them back fell through.

There has been given no information from the Greek authorities to the people onboard, they are confused and do not know what will happen to them.

People onboard need food, water and medical attention immediately!

Update 00.00

Athens is taking coordinated diplomatic action in order for Turkey to honour its commitments and take back the more than 400 peole carried by the Turkish ship.

Greek authorities update:”The ship with about 400 migrants, which bears the Turkish flag, is currently sailing in international waters. A request has been submitted by the Greek authorities to Turkey to accept its return by the Ministry of Shipping. In collaboration with Mr. Plakiotakis, the Minister of Immigration and Asylum has already contacted the Turkish authorities and the European Commission to resolve the incident.”

This is by itself very strange to claim that the boat is in international waters, 12 nautical miles from Greek shore, since most of the time the boat hav been inside Greek territory waters. Also the only reason that the boat might have been in international waters, is because it was towed there by the Hellenic coast guard vessel ΛΣ 070.

The boat was initiated a few kilometers from Crete, when HCG started the tow yesterday, October 28, at noon. Since have the boat been towed by HCG and is currently located south east of Karpathos, destination is still unknown, and from the map showing the posisjon of the boat sent by refugees onboard since yesterday, it doesn’t look like HCG knows themselves.

Update 01.00

The boat seems to be going back and forth outside the east side of Karpathos, no information have been given to the passengers from HCG, and no food, water or medical attention has been provided to people onboard.

Update 14.00

Over 400 people are still trapped on a small cargo ship, witch have been towed by a vessel from the Hellenic Coast Guard(ΛΣ 070), since the morning of October 28. No food, water or medical attention has been provided by the Greek government, several people onboard are sick, some seem on video being unconscious.

The boat was yesterday outside Karpathos, where the Hellenic Coast Guard towed it back and forth east of the island for 24 hours, seemingly without any plan on where to take these people. What reason they have for not providing any support to over 400 people trapped on this cargo ship is not known, it’s an inhuman act in itself, and clearly shows that they deliberately makes the situation onboard as cruel as humanly possible, as they have done on the Greek Aegean islands for years.

Efforts have been made by the Greek government to avoid to take responsibility in this case, by first trying to argue that they should be taken back to Turky because of the EU-Turkey agreement, then later trying to pull the “vessel in international waters” card, in this case trying to claim that the boat was 12nm off the Greek coast, not taking in account that they actually, most of the time, was inside this zone, and actually being towed by the Hellenic Coast Guard for now 55 hours.

People onboard have been told that they will be taken to a Greek island and will arrive there this afternoon around 17.00. From the positions received from the boat this morning, they are heading in direction of Kos, but unknown if this is the final destination. The boat is now north west of Tilos, still being towed by HCH.

There is a lot of confusion amongst the over 400 people onboard, some are happy because they believe they will be taken to Greece, others In deep despair, because they don’t trust the Greek government and believe they somehow will be taken back to Turkey.

We call on the integration community to make sure this inhuman treatment of the people onboard comes to an end, and that they are taken to a safe port in Greece to be able to apply for asylum.

A Lambro 57 patrol boat from the Hellenic Coast Guard just pulled up next to the cargo ship, and people are saying the special forces personnel onboard the cargo ship is leaving. Confused grows even bigger, and they believe the Greek coast guard will leav them there drifting. Situation is difficult due to a total lack of information from the Greek government to the people involved.

Update 14.20

It seems like all military personnel have left the cargo vessel, people onboard is desperate, some reports on suicide attempts, people jumping into the sea, situations is getting out of hand.

Update 14.30

Situation was a bit tense but seems to have calmed down. People onboard have been told they will be taken to Kos, and a new crew of special forces personnel has entered the boat, to take them to port in Kos.

Update 18:00

After four days at sea they have arrived outside Kos, and seems to have anchored north east of Kardamaina.

HCG vessel ΛΣ 070 has left and a new vessel from HCG has taken over, ΛΣ 080.

People onboard is still very confused about what is going on, and what will happen to them.

Hopefully they will soon be taken to land on Kos, and be provided with food, water and medical attention.

Update 20:00

After 60 hours trapped onboard the Cargo vessel controlled by the Hellenic Coast Guard, under guard by heavily armed special forces, no support to the over 400 passengers has been given, no food, no water and no medical attention to those remaining onboard.

People are still confused, and have little trust in information from Greek authorities that they will be disembarked on Kos.

Update 01:30

The boat carrying over 400 people are finally heading towards Kos harbor, and are expected to be in port within one hour. If passengers will be disembarked tonight or tomorrow morning is so far unknown, either way it will take some time to get that many people off the cargo vessel, checked, registered and quarantined.

For now it seems like this case finally will come to an end, and all the people involved will finally be taken to a safe port, for now.


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