Refugee crisis: At least 18 people, including nine children, die as migrant boat sinks off Greek island

Five of the survivors were found 'clinging to a piece of a wood' 

Authorities in Greece have confirmed that at least 18 people, nine of them children, have died in the latest migrant boat to sink off the Greek coast.

Ten people were rescued after the boat sank north of the island of Samos, while the bodies of five boys, four girls, eight men and one woman were recovered. It is unclear how many people are missing.

The country’s coast guard added that the survivors were in shock and their accounts of how many people were onboard were confused and vague. It was reported that five of the survivors were found clinging to a piece of wood, leading Greek authorities to believe the vessel that sank was made of wood.

Pictures of the scene, taken by ITV News’ Lutfi Abu Aun, showed a rescue boat carrying the bodies of victims arriving back at the port. The reporter added that a helicopter and rescue boat were still out trying to find survivors. 

Another boat sank off the island of Kos on Wednesday, leaving seven dead, including two children. Only two people were rescued from that incident. Greece, with thousands of kilometers of coastline and islands close to the Turkish coast, is the main gateway for refugees and migrants.

More than one million refugees and migrants travelled to Europe last year, most fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The UN says another 46,000 people have arrived in Greece so far this year, with more than 170 killed making the dangerous crossing from Turkey.

Additional reporting by PA

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