Update: 22 June 2023
As Alarm Phone, we continue to be available and to support people who search for their loved ones in the days after the shipwreck. In the meantime, the search and rescue operation of the Hellenic Coast Guard continued and the number of bodies found reached 82.
Relatives and friends of the missing are trying to find out what happened to their loved ones. The hotline of the Search & RFL Sector of the Hellenic Red Cross with the numbers 00302105230043 and 00302105140440 unfortunately did not give information how and if relatives could see the bodies of the people who died and identify them. According to relatives who spoke with us, these services are functioning in a very bureaucratic and formal way.
A relative going through the process of searching told us:
“The Greek authorities should have given access to the relatives to let them recognize their loved ones by face. But the authorities preferred to stick to the formalities instead of humanity. They have been keeping the dead bodies for almost 5 days now and asking for DNAs.
First, the process of identification through DNA is very lengthy and second, only limited labs for taking DNA in the way that is required are available in the countries of the third world. In Pakistan for example only 2 labs in the whole country have the capacity to perform the required DNA tests. So this is something already suffering families who are in pain have to deal with, which should concern the Red Cross.”
People who experienced a big loss are, again, mainly left alone by state institutions in their search for the missing. Also on the ground, there is not much support for relatives who travel to Greece to identify the bodies. Although not physically in Greece, we are trying to connect relatives with support structures and local solidarity groups, and to work together to find out more how relatives can navigate through all these bureaucratic challenges.
16 June 2023
Since Tuesday 14th of June, we have been following the aftermath of the shipwreck closely. Our thoughts are with the survivors and with relatives and friends who contact us, desperately searching for their loved ones. On this page, we try to collect information that might be useful for relatives but also for others who are in contact with relatives or survivors.
In addition, we previously published a first statement, which you can find here:
So far we know that there are 104 survivors. Most of them were brought to Malakasa to a reception and identification camp. 9 survivors are detained and under criminal investigation. As far as know, 78 dead bodies have been brought to the morgue of Shisto. How many people remain missing is unclear as estimates of how many passengers were on board the boat go up to 750. The boat sank at a place where the sea is extremely deep. So it can be that many will remain missing.
Searching for missing persons:
For family members searching for missing persons, there is a hotline for the shipwreck in Pylos with the Search & RFL Sector of the Hellenic Red Cross at the numbers 00302105230043 & 00302105140440 (interpretation over the phone possible) and via email at email@example.com.
It is highly important that from each dead person a DNA sample will be taken before burial so that it is possible, also months later, for relatives to find the truth – and to give every dead person back their name and their history. We demand an accurate procedure of identification that opens the possibility to search for missing also later on. We have to demand this because from the past, we know that in many deaths along the European borders this is not done in an appropriate way. Many relatives who call us are unable to travel to Greece and cannot do an identification process there. It could remain unclear who was on board the sunken fishing boat. Many will most probably remain missing, but for all those who are found it is highly important that they can be identified to give their relatives the possibility to know the location of their grave and to mourn. Out of many years of common struggle with relatives who search for their loved ones in the Mediterranean, in the Atlantic, along Europe’s borders and in the desert, we know that behind every dead person, there are many people left behind who urgently need to know and find proof of the death – so that they can be sure and do not have to continue living with false hope for many years to come.
We collected information for those searching for missing people in Greece in a document that is available in several languages. If you want to share, you find them here:
For the Survivors:
For the survivors it is very important to give them time to rest and to recover. At the same moment, it is also very important to follow closely what happens to them. We know from experience that survivors who are important witnesses are also in danger when they speak out about things that are maybe dangerous for authorities who made mistakes. So from our side, we demand that everyone who considers to publicise what survivors say, to make conscious decisions and always with the priority to not endanger those who already suffered most. Those who spoke will need our full support and protection.
So far we know 9 survivors are arrested on suspicion of being “crew of the ship, who had distinct roles in the transportation of the others. Consequently, they were arrested for illegal entry into the country, illegal trafficking of foreigners, in violation of Law 3386/2005 and Law 4251/2014 as applicable, as well as articles 187 (criminal organization), 277 (causing a shipwreck), 302 (manslaughter by negligence) and 306 (endangering life) of the PC.“
From our experience, we know that those who make a profit from organising such trips will not be on the boat. We repeatedly witness people being wrongly accused and nevertheless getting sentenced to many years of imprisonment. This happens because authorities need scapegoats. Everyone has the right to a legal representative they trust. In case you have questions about this you can reach out to the Captain Support Network: https://www.facebook.com/CaptainSupportLegalAid/ (FB) or @captain.support (IG)
Requests from media:
We are thankful to journalists for being interested in our work. But we as an activist network run entirely by volunteers, have limited time and capacity to respond to many requests. We are running an emergency hotline 24/7, for, soon, 9 years. We continue to run the hotline also now after this deadly shipwreck.
Therefore, we refer journalists to the statement we released on Tuesday. We do not have much more to add. We will focus on being reachable for people in distress at and on supporting relatives. We would advise you to focus on European authorities and ask why they failed to rescue hundreds of people in obvious distress.
There are many open questions regarding this mass shipwreck. We require an independent investigation into the in/actions of the Greek and other European authorities, and Frontex.
We also demand that a search for the missing is continued and that, before burial, DNA samples are taken from all bodies that are found.
Ask authorities why there was insufficient rescue capacity although their distress had been known for so many hours. Ask why they prefer to blame those who died and survived, rather than responding to challenging questions about their failure to rescue.
Ask them why they engage in pushbacks and non-assistance for many years. Ask them why they continue to restrict safe migration routes while producing deadly ones.
-“A sudden shift in weight is likely to be the cause of what led the boat to capsize” (Hellenic Coast Guard). Why was there a sudden “shift”?
-Reports are emerging that the HCG towed the boat. Is this correct? If so, in which direction and why is this not stated in their reports?
-Why were not more rescue assets available at the scene, in case of a shipwreck? Why was it necessary for the ‘Mayan Queen’, a private luxury yacht, to provide assistance?
-What was Frontex doing after spotting the boat in distress on Tuesday morning?
-How did other authorities, including in Italy, react when they learned about the distress?
-What are the protocols to collect witness accounts of survivors and to protect them?
-Are DNA probes taken of all bodies found before burial?