A Titanic Disparity in How the World Responds to Maritime Disasters [(Hundreds Presumed Dead, Mostly Women and Children] - Democracy Now!

[Two vessels were recently lost at sea, a submersible named Titan which went on tours of the Titanic and a migrant ship named Adriana.] The five men who lost their lives on the Titan have been getting wall-to-wall coverage in the media worldwide. Meanwhile, the estimated 700 who died when the Adriana sank off the coast of Greece, mostly women and children, have been essentially forgotten. Passengers on the Titan were wealthy; two were billionaires. … Those crammed onto the ramshackle Adriana fishing boat were seeking not adventure but refuge from war, poverty, climate change or any of the many other life-threatening crises that force people to flee their homes with little more than the clothes on their back. They paid human traffickers to ferry them from Libya to Europe.

Perhaps the most notable difference between these two disasters was how the world responded to them. Governments immediately spent millions mounting a search and rescue operation to find the Titan, submerged somewhere in the north Atlantic, deep below an area twice the size of Connecticut. Media outlets provided continuous coverage, with one launching a countdown clock predicting when the submersible’s oxygen would run out. The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy and the Canadian government sent planes and boats to the search area. France and Canada each deployed deep sea robots. People around the world watched and waited breathlessly.

Meanwhile, in Greece, officials knew the exact location of the overcrowded, disabled Adriana. Shocking details are now emerging of its sinking on June 14th. First-hand accounts, reported in El Pais, suggest the Greek Coast Guard could have saved the doomed vessel’s 400-750 passengers, but opted not to.

El Pais reported:

“The Greek authorities had been aware of the ship’s presence since 11 a.m. on June 13 and, in addition to keeping it under surveillance, ordered two ships in the area to deliver food and water to those onboard. They never activated a rescue operation, despite the conditions in which the ship was sailing, not even when the ship’s engine broke down at 1:40 a.m. Between 2:04 a.m. and 2:19 a.m., the old metal fishing trawler jolted violently and then disappeared right before the eyes of the Greek coastguard. It is still not clear what happened, but the sea swallowed everything up.”

Most or all of Adriana’s roughly 100 survivors were helped not by Greek authorities but by a private yacht that had responded to the distress call. Among the survivors were 47 Syrians, 43 Egyptians, 12 Pakistanis and two Palestinians. All were men, as they were traveling above deck on the Adriana. Hundreds of women and children were trapped below deck, and went down with the ship.

The International Migration Organization’s Missing Migrant Project puts the Mediterranean migrant death toll at over 27,000 since 2014. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that close to 1,200 have perished so far this year in dangerous sea crossings to Spain, Italy and Greece. These deaths, about the same number as died on the Titanic, are surely an undercount. Just this week, 39 migrants are believed to have drowned attempting to cross from Morocco to Spain’s Canary Islands.

Read the full story here

Democracy Now!

Locations: Greece Libya France Canada Syria Egypt Pakistan Palestine Italy Spain Canary Islands, Spain 

Organizations: United States Navy United States Coast Guard El Pais International Organization for Migration United Nations 

Tags: Ocean Mass Death Migration and Immigration Discrimination 

Type: Headlines