We are shocked and saddened by the tragic events that unfolded off the coast of Greece. The Frontex Executive Director, who travelled to Greece after learning about the tragedy, has offered any support the authorities may need.
People smugglers have once again trifled with human lives by forcing several hundred migrants on a fishing boat not designed to fit such a number of people. Many were trapped underneath the deck. Our thoughts go out to the families of the victims.
On 13 June before noon (09:47 UTC), a Frontex plane spotted the fishing vessel inside the Greek search and rescue region in international waters. The ship was heavily overcrowded and was navigating at slow speed (6 knots) direction north-east.
Frontex immediately informed the Greek and Italian authorities about the sighting, providing them with information about the condition of the vessel, speed and photos.
The plane kept monitoring the vessel, constantly providing updates to all relevant national authorities until it ran out of fuel and had to return to base.
As a Frontex drone was to patrol the Aegean on the same day, the agency offered to provide additional assistance ahead of the planned and scheduled flight. The Greek authorities asked the agency to send the drone to another search and rescue incident south off Crete with 80 people in danger.
The drone, after attending to the incident south off Crete, flew to the last known position of the fishing vessel. The drone arrived at the scene four hours later at 04:05 (UTC) in the morning, when a large-scale search and rescue operation by Greek authorities was ongoing and there was no sign of the fishing boat. No Frontex plane or boat was present at the time of the tragedy.