Greek Coastguard’s account of the boat catastrophe is called into question by ship tracking.
The Greek coastguard’s narrative of Wednesday’s migrant shipwreck, in which hundreds are suspected to have perished, has been called into question by information received by the BBC.
The overcrowded fishing boat was not moving for at least seven hours before it capsized, according to an analysis of the movements of other ships in the region.
The coastguard continues to maintain that the boat was not in need of rescue during these hours and was instead headed for Italy.
The BBC’s findings have not yet received a response from Greek authorities.
The UN estimates that up to 500 individuals are still missing, although at least 78 deaths are known to have occurred.
The UN has demanded a review into how Greece handled the accident amid concerns that more should have been done to launch a large-scale rescue effort earlier.
The people on board, according to Greek officials, said they did not seek assistance and were not in danger until moments before their boat capsized.
According to the UN, there are still 500 people missing. The capsized boat had 100 children on board.
A computer animation of tracking information was provided by the marine analytics company MarineTraffic to the BBC.
Their data refutes the official narrative that the migrant boat had no navigational issues by demonstrating hours of activity concentrated on a constrained, precise location where the boat later sank.
The fishing boat was not visible on the map since it lacked a tracker. Neither are military and coast guard vessels, which are exempt from sharing their locations.
a picture taken from the air of the fishing boat transporting migrants
Before the catastrophe, numerous pictures of the crowded ship were taken.
Challenged timeline for the official Coast Guard account
The migrant boat was discovered by Frontex, the EU’s border control agency, at about 08:00 GMT on Tuesday. Frontex then alerted the Greek authorities.
Alarm Phone, a hotline for migrants in need at sea, reports receiving a call about the boat being in distress at 12:17 GMT.
We have examined the movement of vessels in the vicinity during the course of the next few hours using video and photos that have been verified by BBC, court documents, and shipping logs.
A ship by the name of Lucky Sailor is shown making a sharp turn to the north at 15:00 GMT in the Marine Traffic animation.
The Lucky Sailor’s owner gave us a copy of its log book and confirmed that the Coast Guard had instructed it to approach the migrant boat and provide food and water.
The migrant boat was discovered by the coast guard helicopter at 15:35 GMT, about 30 minutes later. Authorities have maintained that it was traveling steadily at the time.
data on ship tracking
Source of image: Marine Traffic
Ship activity in the region where the vessel finally sank (in yellow) indicates that it was stationary for several hours prior to the accident.
However, roughly two and a half hours later, at 18:00 GMT, the Faithful Warrior, a different ship, made a trip to the same location and delivered supplies to the boat as well.
We were referred to the investigative authorities by the proprietors of Faithful Warrior.
A video that was allegedly recorded from the Faithful Warrior has surfaced, purporting to show supplies being lowered by a rope into the water to the migrant ship. There are no other ships visible.
The vessel, which is not moving in the video, matched the shape of the migrant ship seen in images, according to BBC Verify, and the weather conditions were with those that were reported at the time. When exactly this video was shot is unknown.
Greek officials first asserted that the boat was maintaining a “steady course and speed” between 19:40 and 22:40.
Their later disclosed close-up photos during this time period, which contradicts their first claims that they had observed discretely, implies the migrant boat is not moving.
boat with searchlights
THE GREEK COAST GUARD, IMAGE SOURCE
The coast guard shared this image of the fishing boat just before it sank on Thursday.
The coastguard attempted to enter the boat to assess the hazard, but a rope that had been attached was removed, according to a government official, and individuals on board did not want assistance.
The fact that all of the shipping activity for the past seven hours had been concentrated in one area suggests that the migrant boat had barely moved.
Given that it was in the deepest section of the Mediterranean Sea, buffeted by wind and waves, the scale of the animated map suggests that it only traveled a few nautical miles, which is maybe to be expected of a ship in distress.
People in distress would have rocked the boat, which would have added to any movement.
Greek officials have maintained that it was not in distress during this time and was instead securely traveling to Italy, therefore the coast guard decided not to make an attempt at a rescue.
The ship capsized at 23:00 with hundreds of people on board, and the tracking animation shows a flurry of ships rushing to assist.
This included the Celebrity Beyond, where video of the disaster’s aftermath was captured and afterwards supplied to the BBC.
The Mayan Queen, a luxurious yacht, is then directed to assist in bringing some of the 104 survivors ashore.
Those who were saved arrived in safety to the port of Kalamata, but they left a trail of unanswered concerns regarding the entirety of the Greek reaction.