Left to drown off Morocco's coast

Shortly before 7:00h CEST on 29 May 2021, we were alerted to an unseaworthy zodiac without a motor, that had left from Achakar, Morocco with 11 people, among them two women, just a few hours earlier.

A family member contacted us as he had lost contact with the boat hours ago and the weather was getting worse; there were 1.3m waves and 16kn winds. He sent us a position dated almost 2 hours ago, so we immediately tried to communicate with the people on board in order to get a new position and since we were completely unable to establish communication with them we decided to inform the competent authorities with the poor information we had.

Just after eight in the morning we sent an email and called MRCC Rabat in order to informing them about the situation. Their response was to call them back later. At 9:30h CEST we contacted back MRCC Rabat, and we were told that they had intercepted the boat but it had 10 people on board. We insisted there were 11 travellers onboard, to what they replied that numbers of people sometimes are incorrect and that the relatives must have made a mistake when giving us the exact number.

We reported to the family member what MRCC Rabat told us. He was sure there were 11 people since he was told there were going to be 12 but at the very last moment one person remained on land. We asked him to try to make contact with the people on board to confirm the rescue.

It was not until 15:50h CEST that we learned from the family member what had really happened. During the interception operation the boat capsized and people fell into the water, 10 people were rescued and one was left in the middle of the ocean. Despite the persistent demands of fellow passengers begging the Moroccan Navy not to quit the area the patrol vessel continued its journey to Tangier.

As we wrote on Saturday on our social network channels, we consider the Moroccan authorities responsible for this new death at the border and we also reiterate that they have neither the technical nor human resources to carry out SAR operations or to coordinate them. 

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