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"Forgotten" mobile phones shed light on the migrant wreck off Pylos

Featured "Forgotten" mobile phones shed light on the migrant wreck off Pylos

The visual material containing 20 "lost" mobiles rescued from the fatal migrant shipwreck is - as presented by "TA NEA" newspaper - probably the last hope to find out what finally happened in the unprecedented tragedy with the approximately 600 missing a month and a half ago off Pylos that has aroused the interest of Frontex, foreign agencies and media.

The mobile phones that had been seized by port guards after the operation to help the shipwrecked and had remained on the rescue boat were handed over at the beginning of July to port guards in... Kythira and a few days ago to the competent judicial officials.

The main request is to determine from videos that may contain whether at the time of the dramatic overturning of the ship from Libya carrying approximately 700 migrants there was an attempt to tow it by a Coast Guard ship. That is, as some passengers of the slave ship claim, but the Coast Guard personnel deny.

Towing attempt

The mystery widens following documents presented by Coast Guard officials that the Israeli camera recording system on the Coast Guard patrol vessel in question was not working due to technical problems. In addition, it is stated that there is no data from telephone communications of Coast Guard officials at critical times. And this while the depositions of the crew members of the Coast Guard ship in question have already begun at the Piraeus Maritime Court. According to some initial information, everyone will deny that there was an attempt to tow the boat during the critical hours of the capsize, and that there was simply surveillance of it from a distance of 80 meters.

The shipwreck occurred in international waters off Pylos two hours after midnight on June 14, 2023 of a fishing vessel estimated to be carrying around 750 migrants. During the rescue operation by the Greek authorities, 104 people were rescued, including Egyptians, Syrians, Pakistanis, Afghans and Palestinians, while 82 dead were recovered. Prosecutions for the trafficking of illegal immigrants were brought against nine of the survivors of the shipwreck.

So according to 6-7 additional statements from the rescued - and while initially they had not mentioned anything related - the dramatic overturning and sinking of the fishing boat was during the approach and attempted towing by the patrol boat LS-920 which was monitoring the course of the boat. The port officials deny these reports, arguing that such an undertaking would have no meaning whatsoever and was not feasible due to the relatively small power of their vessel's engine, as well as that it would be dangerous because there was a risk that the capsizing of the illegal immigrant boat would alsodrag the Coast Guard vessel underwater as well.

Visual material

However, until now there is no complete clarification of this aspect, since the port officials are citing a months-long failure (due to a manufacturing error as well as problematic maintenance) in the patrol boat's camera recording system that could capture exactly where it was when the migrant boat sank.

The captain of the Coast Guard vessel presented in the first phase of the judicial investigation some videos that showed the boat rocking a few hours before it sank. However, this visual material is said to have been gathered from the master's mobile phone, which was filming the image that was being shown to him on his screens, by the patrol boat's cameras, but without recording due to the aforementioned technical problem. According to the same reports, the master, due to other duties, was not filming the ship's screens when the migrant boat capsized.

So the investigators of the tragic case are focusing their interest on the 20 mobile phones that were found on survivors (perhaps some in the pockets of people who drowned) after they were pulled out and which had remained... forgotten in a bag on the Coast Guard boat. These mobiles were delivered to the port of Kythira (about 25 days after the shipwreck) where the aforementioned vessel had sunk as part of another patrol. Thus, it is being investigated whether the mobile phones may contain revealing videos of what happened mainly before the overturning and sinking of the fishing vessel.