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Boat carrying 85 people in distress south west of Zakynthos, 30 of them children

A sailboat carrying approximately 85 people in distress 26 miles south west of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea, amongst them over 30 children.

The group has been traveling for over four days, and was heading towards Italy when the engine broke down earlier today, and the captain abandon the boat.

Now the boat is helplessly drifting, wind and current is pushing the boat further out in the Ionian Sea, away from land, they desperately needs to be rescued.

Several people have contacted the Greek coast guard regarding this boat, also the people from the boat. Location, contact number, number of people and situation onboard have been provided.

So far the coast guard has not arrived on location, lights can be seen in the distance, but this could possibly be other boats in the area. People onboard had also called 112 several times.

People who have called coast guard to inform them on this emergency are given the same answer, that they are informed and has boats in the area, so far no boats have arrived on location.

The group has expressed that they want to apply for asylum in Greece, and that they fear being sent back to Turkey, for then to be deported back to Iran.

Most of the people onboard are Iranian Kurds, many politicians they explain, to be deported back to Iran would be a clear death sentence.

Aegean Boay Report can’t do much in cases like this, besides to document and publish their case. In this area Greek coast guard is the only alternative, and if they don’t want to perform the rescue, there exists no others Solution.

We hope that the Greek coast guard finds and rescue this group, without any further delay, so that they can as soon as possible be taken to a port of safety.

Update 26.08.2022 10.00 am

During the night people onboard have tried to rest, it’s difficult to relax under these circumstances, not knowing what will become of them.

This morning the sailboat is still drifting, so far no effort has been done by the Greek coast guard to assist or rescue the boat in distress in Greek waters.

In the distance we can clearly see a coast guard vessel, but they are not approaching the sailboat.

People onboard is waiting and hoping that the Greek coast guard will eventually rescue them, several calls has been made to Greek emergency services 112, the only response has been that they have told the group to be patient.

The group are running out of food and water, if this drags out much longer, children will have nothing more to eat or drink.

A coast guard vessel are closing in, but so far only circling the sailboat from a distance, for so to move away again, why Greek authorities do not initiate a rescue operation is so far unknown.

The Greek coast guard is well aware of the situation, and are present with at least two vessel. One bigger coast guard ship we can see in the distance, and a smaller one, a Lambro 57 Coastal Patrol vessel ΛΣ-143, beloning to the Hellenic Coast Guard, circling the sailboat.

We fear the the Greek authorities are considering pushing these people back to Turkey, let’s remind the Greek authorities of their duties according to international law and the law of the sea.

Rescue of people in distress at sea, regardless of their nationality or status, is an unconditional obligation for all ships in vicinity and coastal state authorities. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS Convention) provides that:“ Every State shall require the master of a ship flying its flag, in so far as he can do so without serious danger to the ship, the crew or the passengers: (a) to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost; (b) to proceed with all possible speed to the rescue of persons in distress, if informed of their need of assistance, in so far as such action may reasonably be expected of him.” (Art. 98 (1))
Furthermore, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea imposes an obligation on every coastal State Party to:

“…promote the establishment, operation and maintenance of an adequate and effective search and rescue service regarding safety on and over the sea and, where circumstances so require, by way of mutual regional arrangements, co-operate with neighbouring States for this purpose”. (Art. 98 (2))
The Guidelines on the Treatment of Persons Rescued at Sea (adopted in May 2004 by the Maritime Safety Committee together with the SAR and SOLAS amendments) contain the following provisions:
“The government responsible for the SAR region in which survivors were recovered is responsible for providing a place of safety or ensuring that such a place of safety is provided.” (Resolution MSC.167(78), para. 2.5).

Update 26.08.2022 17.00 pm:

The sailboat carrying approximately 85 people is still drifting in the same area, Greek coast guard have still made any effort to rescue the people in distress.

Two men is seen in a video using a small rubber boat trying to go for help, but we do not believe this is remotely possible, since the distance to Zakynthos is now close to 30 miles.

From videos we can see that people onboard seems to be, under the circumstances, doing better than expected. But they say that they have no more food and water, and can not stay at see much longer.

In a voice message sent to Aegean Boat Report from one of the passengers on the sailboat, she confirms that they have no more food and water, and that people onboard are very worried about what will happen to them. She asks again that they need to be rescued, so far Greek authorities do not listen.

The sailboat has now been drifting for almost 20 hours, equally long the Greek authorities has refused to rescue a boat in distress carrying 85 people, men women and children, who now is facing another night at sea, drifting in the dark.

Update 26.08.2022 19.30 pm:

Just now a vessel, a Lambro 57 belonging to he Hellenic coast guard arrived, people say people onboard the coast guard vessel started taking pictures of them, for what reason we don’t know.

Food and water has been provided by the coast guard, what the next steps will be is so far not clear. Hopefully they will be transferred to a larger coast guard vessel and taken to a port of safety.

A large tanker has pulled up next to the sailboat, it seems like the Greek coast guard is going to use this tanker to transfer the group to port, question will then be what port.

The vessel is identified as the Antigua and Barbuda registered Bulk Carrier HC Jana Rosa, traveling from Alexandria, Egypt to Split in Croatia.

People from the sailboat now confirmed that everyone has been taken onboard the Jana Rosa, what port they will disembark in is so far unknown.

Update 26.08.2022 20.30 pm:

People onboard just informed us that the tanker Jana Rosa will be taking them to Athens, and that they will need to stay on this tanker for 11 hours.

The tanker will then have to deviate from its original route, that was Split in Croatia, to get the rescued passengers to Athens.

Aegean Boat Report is revealed that this group finally was rescued, and will be taken to a port of safety. We will be following the movement of the Jana Rosa until it docks in Athens.

Update 27.08.2022 01.30 am:

After days at sea in uncertainty on what their faith would be, if they this time would reach Europe, the group is finally safe. They know now for sure that they will not be pushed back to Turkey, they will be able to apply for asylum.

After boarding the Jana Rosa, the crew has been amazing. Everyone was provided with food, some even got beds to sleep in, hospitality that was received with great gratitude.

It’s remarkable that something many of us take for granted, to be rescued at see if in distress, be taken care of by our rescuers, seems like a gift from heaven for this group. Everyone is revealed, many trying to contact their loved ones on the phone to give them the good news.

We take out human rights and international laws for granted, but yet we fail to provide this to the most vulnerable people showing up at our doorstep, asking for protection.

The group are on the way to Kalamáta, and will be in port 06.00

Their journey and struggles in Europe has just begun, but we have at least given them a fighting chance.

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