Shipwreck The Frontex plane that saw the ship with migrants for the first time: "Italy should have raised the alarm"

It is 10:26 p

Shipwreck The Frontex plane that saw the ship with migrants for the first time: "Italy should have raised the alarm"

It is 10:26 p.m. on Saturday, February 25. A Beechcraft 200 Super King Air, a twin-engine turboprop aircraft, has now been on patrol over the Ionian Sea for three hours and 50 minutes. It does so in the name of Frontex's 'Themis operation'. It flies at an altitude of 2,300 meters and advances at an average speed of 200 kilometers per hour. At one point, after "scanning" the area east of Sicily and south of Apulia, he realizes -thanks to the thermal imaging camera installed on board- that there is a ship full of people heading towards the Calabrian coast. .

The plane, owned by a specialized private company, provides little information to radars. This is why it is not detected by the Flightradar24 tracking site. At 22:27 and 36 seconds it begins to circle around a ship, as shown by the tracks that the 'Corriere della Sera' was able to recover.

Between 10:31 p.m. and 10:32 p.m., the plane takes some photos for analysis. In the images, a Frontex spokeswoman explains by email, "only one person is seen on board", "but the thermal cameras detect a significant response from the open hatches in the bow", and "the ship was quite submerged". , a sign that there are other individuals in the boat.

At 10:32 p.m. - that is, six minutes after the sighting - the Beechcraft moved away from the area. The Frontex spokeswoman states that "our plane continued monitoring until it had to return to the base due to lack of fuel." For another four minutes it continues at the same altitude and speed. Then it climbs to 3,400 meters and accelerates to more than 300 kilometers per hour, a sign that its activity has ended. The plane is heading to Lamezia Terme and will not take off until Monday the 27th.

Frontex confirms that "as always in these cases, we immediately report the sighting to the International Coordination Center of Operation Themis and to the other competent Italian authorities, providing the position, course and speed of the ship."

In statements to the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, the Interior Minister, Matteo Piantedosi, stated that "the Frontex aerial device that first sighted the vessel had not reported a situation of danger or stress on board." . But when the agency was asked whose responsibility it was to launch the search and rescue operation, which would have deployed all means to save people at sea, the Frontex spokeswoman was clear: "According to the law international, it is the responsibility of the national authorities".

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