January 2016: One of the deadliest months ever in the Aegean Sea

Alarm Phone Bi-Weekly Report 18th – 31st January 2016

Bi-Weekly Report 18h – In January 2016, the Alarm Phone witnessed the most deadly month ever in the Aegean Sea. On a daily basis, reports about capsized boats and drowned travellers reached us and in several cases the Alarm Phone was directly alerted to shipwrecks with dozens of fatalities. 257 migrants drowned in the cold sea while trying to cross from Turkey to the Greek islands this month and at least 26 travellers died trying to reach Italy. At the same time, the number of people who successfully crossed the European border remains very high: in January 2016 more than 60.000 travellers reached Greece. This high number is comparable to the number of successful sea crossings of last year’s summer months (July 2015: 55.000), rather than to the winter months (January 2015: 1.700).

In the last two weeks of this deadly month, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 80 cases of emergency in the Aegean Sea. In many of these cases we were able to support travellers to safely reach Greek shores, but we also witnessed tragic incidents. On Friday the 22nd of January 2016, the Alarm Phone was informed about a wooden sailing boat with 70 to 100 travellers on board, which had capsized northeast of the Greek island of Kalolimnos. Only 26 travellers could be saved, while 34 bodies were found and many more people went missing. One week after this fatal accident, on Saturday the 30th of January, the Alarm Phone was in contact with a boat that sank near the Greek island of Samos. According to a contact person who informed us about this case and whose wife and children had been on the boat, some people survived the shipwreck, while others lost their lives. more information.