Today, the New York Times released a damning investigation under the headline: “Everyone Knew the Migrant Ship Was Doomed. No One Helped.” It reveals the extent to which Greek authorities ignored the plight of the Adriana, the ship whose sinking last month led to the deaths of more than 600 people.
The Times found 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 vessels, Greek authorities dispatched armed men in masks from a special operations unit. It was the latest in a long line of brutal moves Greece has made to keep migrants out. In the country, the pushback of people seeking asylum, as we previously reported, has become “a routine practice, if not outright policy—stunning in their scope, brazenness, and cruelty.”
After reviewing sealed court documents, satellite imagery, radio signals, and interviewing more than 20 officials and survivors, the Times concluded that “the scale of death” was likely preventable.
Conditions on board the vessel were horrific. Survivors told the Times that people were beaten as they waited for a rescue that never arrived. After passengers ran out of clean water, they attempted to soak dry prunes in seawater in the hope that it would mitigate the saltiness.
The overcrowded boat was spotted by a plane from Europe’s border agency, which alerted Greek authorities. The Times found that Greece then had 13 hours to carry out a rescue, but did not do so.
Passengers on the boat were positioned according to a dystopian hierarchy. Pakistani men were on the bottom. Women and children were in the middle. Egyptians, Palestinians, and Syrians were on top. The arrangement meant that Pakistani men, along with women and children, had little chance of surviving when the ship capsized.
The Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs did not respond to questions from the Times, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.
As others have noted, the Adriana sank just days before a submersible carrying five people went missing on its way to the wreck of the Titanic. US authorities knew that a rescue was highly unlikely to be successful; the Navy had heard what it believed to be the implosion of the submersible. Nevertheless, the Coast Guard launched a massive operation that dominated news in the United States for days. The discovery of pieces of the submersible near the Titanic confirmed that all five people onboard had died.