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Ghost Boat: A must-follow investigative series on the mysterious disappearance of a migrant boat

KRATEN, KERKENNAH ISLANDS, TUNISIA - 22 OCTOBER 2015: (L-R) Fisherman Hedi Khecherem, 50, shows Eric Reidy the migrant routes from Libya and Tunisia towards to Italy on his GPS on his boat in Kraten, Kerkennah Islands, Tunisia, on October 22nd 2015.

A boat loaded with at least 243 migrants was supposed to disembark from Libya and land in Italy last summer. Instead, it mysteriously vanished, leaving little trace of what happened to the dozens of migrants on board.

Now, a team of journalists, led by Tunisia-based investigative reporter Eric Reidy, is determined to crack the unsolved mystery. Ghost Boat is an episodic, live-investigative digital project which publishes one story every week on Medium.

“It’s the most exciting part of it, but the idea of producing an in-depth investigative piece every week is pretty insane,” said Reidy.

The Ghost Boat team is comprised of a core group of five journalists, but has garnered a dedicated group of about 20 to 30 users who regularly contribute leads and tips to the project.

One of the most vexing components of the story is that there’s very little to indicate the boat wrecked. No wreckage washed ashore which is what usually happens when a vessel sinks. No floating corpses were found.

“This is virtually unheard of,” said Reidy. “It’s the only one of its kind, as far as I know.”

But, there’s also no record that the boat landed either.  AJ+ featured Reidy’s project in a recent story. Watch it here:

Sources have lead the team of reporters in a dizzying pursuit of leads. One mysterious phone call suggested that the boat’s passengers were stuck in a Tunisian prison; another theory poses that they were kidnapped for forced labor.

Reidy and his team, however, haven’t ruled out the possibility that the boat did indeed sink. And if it did, the team wants to know why authorities have failed to identify the event.

“If the boat did sink, what went wrong? What was the failure in the system that allowed this boat to disappear without a trace?” asked Reidy.

The fifth episode publishes today on Medium.

Eric Reidy speaks to Daniel Bacchieri:

— Cristina Constantini of Fusion
Photograph Gianni Cipriano

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