At least 16 migrants dead in Greece after third shipwreck in a week

Combined death toll from the three accidents stands at more than 30

Michele Kambas
Saturday 25 December 2021 15:16 GMT
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<p>Rescued migrants disembark a coastguard boat at Chios Island, Greece, in October </p>

Rescued migrants disembark a coastguard boat at Chios Island, Greece, in October

At least 16 people have died after their boat overturned off the Greek island of Paros in the central Aegean Sea in the third maritime disaster involving migrants this week.

Authorities scrambled boats and planes in a search and rescue operation northwest of Paros on Friday night. The country’s semi-official Athens News Agency said the bodies of 12 men, three women and an infant were recovered from the area.

Eighty people were believed to have been on the vessel, which the coastguard believes had been been headed for Italy from Turkey.

The circumstances under which the vessel capsized were unclear.

More than 30 people are believed to have died in the three accidents.

Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union for migrants and refugees from Africa, the Middle East and beyond, though the flow has tapered off since more than a million people traversed the country to other EU states in 2015 and 2016.

Giannis Plakiotakis, the Greek shipping minister, said trafficking gangs were responsible for the disasters.

He said the gangs, “are indifferent to human life, stacking dozens of people, without lifejackets, in vessels which do not conform to the most basic of safety standards”.

Earlier on Friday, authorities said they had recovered 11 bodies after a sailing boat carrying migrants sank off an uninhabited islet in southern Greece on Thursday.

Another 90 people were rescued in that operation. The coastguard said initial information suggested those migrants had also been heading for Italy.

On Tuesday night, a boat thought to have been carrying up to 50 migrants sank off the island of Folegandros in the Cyclades, with dozens feared missing.

Reuters

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