Frontex statement following tragic shipwreck off Crotone


We are deeply saddened by the tragedy off Crotone this weekend.

More than 60 people lost their lives due to the actions of unscrupulous people smugglers who crammed people on board in bad weather conditions.

In the late hours of Saturday, a Frontex plane monitoring the Italian search and rescue area as part of joint operation Themis spotted a boat heading towards the Italian coast.

One person was visible on the deck. The boat was sailing by itself and there were no signs of distress. However, the thermal cameras on board of the Frontex airplane detected a significant thermal response from the open hatches at the bow and other signs that there might be people below the deck. This raised the suspicion of Frontex surveillance experts.

As always in such cases, we have immediately informed the International Coordination Centre of the Themis operation and other relevant Italian authorities about the sighting, providing the boat’s location, infrared pictures, course and speed.

Our plane kept monitoring the area until it had to return to base due to fuel shortage. The Italian authorities involved dispatched two patrol boats to intercept the vessel; however, the adverse weather conditions forced them to return to the port.

The rescue operation was declared in the early hours of Sunday, after the shipwreck was located on the shore off Crotone. The rescue operation, coordinated by the competent Italian authorities, was carried out at land, sea and air and supported by Frontex boats and planes.

Please note that it is always the competent national authorities that classify an event as a search and rescue. You can find more information here.

Please refer all questions regarding the operation to the relevant Italian authorities.

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