Today the New York Times published a damning investigation under the headline: “Everyone Knew the Migrant Ship Was Doomed. Nobody helped. It reveals the extent to which the Greek authorities ignored the plight of the Adriana, the ship whose sinking last month killed more than 600 people.
He Times discovered that dozens of European officials monitored the ship using radar, telephone and radio for 13 hours as it lost power and drifted in the Mediterranean Sea. Instead of sending a hospital ship or rescue ships, the Greek authorities sent armed men wearing masks from a special operations unit. It was the latest in a long line of brutal measures Greece has taken to keep migrants out. In the country, the rejection of people seeking asylum, as we previously reported, has become “a routine practice, if not an outright policy, impressive in its scope, brazenness and cruelty.”
After reviewing sealed court documents, satellite images, radio signals, and interviewing more than 20 officials and survivors, the Times concluded that “the scale of death” was probably preventable.
Conditions on board the ship were horrible. The survivors told the Times that people were beaten while waiting for rescue that never came. After the passengers ran out of clean water, they tried soaking dried plums in seawater in hopes of mitigating the salinity.
The crowded ship was spotted by a Europe border agency plane, which alerted the Greek authorities. He Times found that Greece then had 13 hours to carry out a rescue, but did not.
The ship’s passengers were placed according to a dystopian hierarchy. The Pakistani men were in the background. Women and children were in the middle. The Egyptians, Palestinians and Syrians were on top. The arrangement meant that the Pakistani men, along with the women and children, had little chance of survival when the ship sank.
The Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs did not respond to questions from the Timesciting an ongoing criminal investigation.
As others have pointed out, the Adriana sank just days before a submersible carrying five people disappeared en route to the Titanic wreck. US authorities knew that a rescue was highly unlikely to succeed; the Navy had heard what they believed to be the implosion of the submersible. However, the Coast Guard launched a massive operation that dominated the news in the United States for days. The discovery of parts of the submersible near the Titanic confirmed that all five people on board had died.