In the aftermath of the blame game for the Cutro tragedy, we’ve heard all sorts of excuses in the past week: parents who shouldn’t have “endangered” their children, sudden worsening weather conditions, a shallow seabed “unknown to smugglers,” and so on, blaming everything but the Interior Ministry for not sending out the Coast Guard. Let’s forget about the “irresponsible parents” – an accusation so monstrous that it’s not worth discussing – and focus on the other aspect, the marine technical side, starting with the “suddenly worsened” weather conditions and the seabed.
When Frontex’s plane spotted and photographed the Turkish dinghy sailing on Saturday evening, the situation was as follows, as shown by all the numerous nautical applications available: force 5 wind, about 20 knots, sea state 4 on the Douglas scale, meaning “very rough” with waves up to two meters.The Frontex plane photographing the dinghy spotted only one person outside on the deck, but the low waterline left no doubt that it was full inside. Moreover, that’s the area where dozens of migrant boats arrive, and there are many abandoned ones in the port of Crotone to prove it. It was therefore obvious and known to Italian authorities that a dinghy full of migrants was in the middle of the sea with waves as high as two meters and 40 miles from the coast.
This was five hours before the boat broke against the sandy seabed that slopes under the sea from Steccato di Cutro. For five hours and 40 miles, that dinghy loaded with human beings was allowed to sail towards Cutro in those conditions.
And mind you: at the time of the shipwreck, the sea was force 5, sea state 4 on the Douglas scale, so identical conditions to five hours earlier when the dinghy was spotted by Frontex. There was no “sudden worsening.”
As for the seabed, it’s not at fault, it’s not abnormal, with no rocks protruding just below the sea surface: it’s a completely normal sloping sandy seabed. It was therefore evident that the wave motion that night could only lead to a collision of the keel with the seabed and the breaking of the wooden hull. But the Coast Guard wasn’t ordered to go out and save those people. Now there’s an investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office, so all this will be thoroughly examined, as is right in a state governed by the rule of law. But these are the nautical data, and they’re public for everyone to see.
Foto | Ansa