Greek attempt to tow caused the boat to capsize, say survivors
The statements of the six witnesses clash with the public statements given by the Greek coastguard and government
Tasleem Bibi holds a picture of her son Akash Gulzar who is missing after the overloaded trawler capsized
SURVIVORS of a boat disaster that likely killed hundreds of migrants near Greece gave accounts of traffickers in North Africa cramming them into a clapped-out fishing trawler. They recounted hellish conditions above and below deck, with no food or water.
Some also said the tragic end, when it came, was precipitated by the actions of the Greek coastguard. They told judicial authorities of a doomed attempt to tow the overloaded trawler that caused the vessel to capsize in the early hours of June 14.
A disastrous coastguard towing attempt was recounted in six of the nine statements from survivors submitted to Greek judicial officials investigating the causes of the tragedy, according to evidence seen by Reuters.
One Syrian survivor said he and other migrants on board the Adriana, which had broken down en route to Italy, screamed “Stop!” after a Greek coastguard vessel attached a rope to the bow of the trawler and began to pull it while picking up speed.
The migrant boat tilted left and right and then it turned upside down, he added. Three other witnesses said they didn’t know what caused the Adriana to capsize.
The statements of the six witnesses clash with the public statements given by the Greek coastguard and government, which have said no attempt was made to tow the boat and that it overturned when the coastguard was about 70 metres away.
When the Adriana capsized and sank 47 miles southwest of Pylos, in international waters within Greece’s search-and-rescue jurisdiction, it was carrying between 400 and 750 migrants mostly from Syria, Egypt and Pakistan, the UN refugee agency says. A total of 104 survivors have been found but rescuers say it’s unlikely anyone else will be recovered, dead or alive, in one of the of the deepest parts of the Mediterranean.
The towing episode was also recounted by two other survivors who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals from Greek authorities. One of them described the terrifying moments when the Adriana overturned, which he said came when the coastguard started tugging the boat.