Watch the Med Alarm Phone has been in regular contact with crew members as well as rescued people of the Sarost 5 since the first distress call that took place in the Maltese SAR zone on Friday 13.July.2018. The 40 rescued people have been at sea for more than two weeks. The rescued people and the crew of the supply vessel Sarost 5 have been stationed off the port of Zarzis since Monday 16.07.18 and have endured unbearable living conditions on board. We are relieved that the Tunisian government has let the people disembarked for humanitarian reasons on Sunday 29.July.2018

The 40 people were first discovered in the Maltese SAR zone and the RCC in Malta ordered a ship to the scene on July 13. Caroline III – the closest vessel – provided food and water. Yet they kept some distance and only allowed 8 people who had jumped in the water on board. These people were eventually transferred to the Sarost 5, another supply vessel stationed nearby, allegedly on the orders of the company operating the nearby platform. At this point, the Sarost 5 called Italy, France and Malta, searching for a port to disembark the people. With no conclusive response, they headed for Sfax. They soon turned towards Zarzis, once the authorisation to disembark in Sfax was refused. In Zarzis, they were also denied entry to the port. From then onwards, the Sarost 5 waited in front of the port of Zarzis for more than two weeks, and the people onboard were made to sleep on cardboard on deck, exposed to the spray from the waves and the heat of the sun.

Finally, on July 28, the Tunisian prime minister, Youssef Chahed announced that Tunisia would welcome the migrants of the Sarost 5, on humanitarian grounds.


SAR case number: N.A

SAR organisation: Alarm Phone

SAR assets: Astral; Open Arms

Incident types: Order to stay away by EU authority; Order to stay away by non-EU authority; On-scene coordination transfer to non-EU country; EU MRCC denying disembarkation

Date of SAR (UTC): 14/07/2018

Time of first information received (UTC): 13/07/2018 5:00 pm

Source of first information for the NGO: Own detection

Starting time of first sighting / engagement with target boat in distress (UTC): 14/07/2018 4:35 pm


Number of migrant boats: 1

Type of migrant boat(s): fisherboat

Number of people on board per boat: 40

Other vessels in the vicinity (e.g. unidentified / cargo / aircrafts): Sarost5 (Offshore Supply Ship)

Actors involved (by asset / institution type): Tunisian Coast Guard


Region of Mediterranean: Central Mediterranean

Position(s) of vessel(s) in distress at the time of SAR request:

Latitude: 34° 16´ N

Longitude: 11° 25´ E

Location description: High seas

Approximate distance from coast line: The boat is apparently 5 nautical miles north of the petrol platform Ashtat Terminal.

Country of disembarkation: Tunisia


Total number of survivors: 40

Number of identified unaccompanied minors: 2

Number of identified pregnant women: 3

Number of identified medical evacuation cases: 2


Total number of confirmed deaths: 0

Estimated number of dead / missing persons: 0