Dozens of migrants dead, 100 rescued as boat sinks off Greece

Greece migrant boat sinking (Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA)

Not less than 79 migrants died after their fishing boat sank off the Peloponnese, Greece’s coastguard stated Wednesday, as fears mounted that the demise toll might rise a lot increased.

Some 100 folks had been rescued after the boat capsized in worldwide waters within the Ionian Sea in an operation difficult by robust winds, the coastguard stated.

Coastguard spokesman Nikolaos Alexiou informed state TV ERT the search and rescue effort would proceed throughout the night time with flares fired by a C-130 navy transport airplane.

The boat “capsized and sank” early Wednesday in a location that’s “among the many deepest within the Mediterranean,” he stated.

A migration ministry supply informed AFP that in line with the coastguard there might have been “a whole lot” of individuals on the boat.

“We concern there might be a really giant variety of lacking individuals,” the official stated.

The coastguard spokesman stated “precise numbers can’t be safely given” on these aboard, however the boat was “overloaded.”

“The fishing boat was 25-30 metres lengthy. Its deck was full of individuals, and we assume the inside was simply as full,” he informed ERT.

The survivors are primarily from Syria, Pakistan and Egypt, Alexiou stated.

The Worldwide Group for Migration (IOM) acknowledged fears of a lot of lacking folks, noting in a tweet: “We concern extra lives had been misplaced. Preliminary stories recommend as much as 400 folks had been onboard.”

Greece’s head of state, President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, visited the port of Kalamata to seek advice from senior officers on the rescue and lodging response.

European Fee head Ursula von der Leyen stated she was “deeply saddened by the information of the shipwreck off the Greek coast and the various reported deaths” and “very involved by the variety of lacking folks.”

“We should proceed to work collectively, with member states and third nations, to forestall such tragedies,” she stated.

The worst migrant tragedy in Greece was in June 2016 when a minimum of 320 folks had been listed as lifeless or lacking, in line with AFP data going again to 1993.

The IOM till Wednesday had listed 48 migrants lifeless and lacking within the jap Mediterranean to this point this 12 months, in comparison with 378 a 12 months earlier.

Together with coastguard patrol boats and a navy frigate, the rescue operation included a helicopter in addition to seven different boats that had been within the space.

– Passengers ‘refused assist’ –

Greek media reported that just about 30 folks have been taken to the port’s hospital. The coastguard stated 4 in a extra critical situation had been transferred to hospital by helicopter.

The coastguard stated a surveillance airplane with Europe’s Frontex company had noticed the boat on Tuesday afternoon, however the passengers had “refused any assist”.

It added that none on board had been carrying life jackets.

Authorities stated it appeared the migrants had departed from Libya and had been heading for Italy.

The migration ministry would start searching for lodging for these rescued as soon as they’re processed by the coastguard to find out gender and nationality, an official stated.

Tv footage confirmed emergency tents being arrange at Kalamata.

Additionally Wednesday, a crusing boat in misery carrying about 80 migrants off Crete was rescued by a coastguard patrol and towed to port, Greece’s port police stated.

Together with Italy and Spain, Greece has been one of many primary touchdown factors for tens of hundreds of individuals looking for to achieve Europe from Africa and the Center East.

One other 90 folks in a sailboat, greater than a 3rd of them kids, had been rescued close to the island of Cythera over the weekend.

Greece can also be dealing with a rise of crossing makes an attempt from Turkey on southern routes close to the Cyclades islands and towards the Peloponnese peninsula, with boats hoping to keep away from patrols within the northern Aegean Sea.

Rescue operations are frequent, however final month the Greek authorities got here beneath worldwide stress over video footage reportedly exhibiting the forceful expulsion of migrants who had been set adrift at sea.

Greece and different EU member states on the southern and southeastern rim of the bloc say they’re being unfairly tasked with managing arrivals of undocumented migrants.

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