At least 15 dead in the sinking of a sailboat off the coast of Greece

At least 15 people have died and around 30 others are missing in the sinking of a migrant boat off the island of Lesbos, Greece, the Greek coastguard announced on Thursday (October 6). Previously, the authorities had reported dozens of missing after the sinking of another boat that would have transported some 95 people, off the island of Cithere, near the Peloponnese peninsula.

The bodies of 15 women believed to be of African descent have been recovered from the east of the island of Lesbos, which neighbors Turkey’s Aegean coast, after their boat sank, coast guard spokesman Nikos Kokkalas said. , about the topic. ERT public television channel. Another nine women were rescued but another 14 people are missing, he added, adding that about 40 people were on board the ship at the time of the tragedy. “The women were completely scared.“, he described.

“They ended up in the water”

Hours earlier, a spokeswoman said seven people who were rescued near the island of Kythera said the boat was carrying 95 other people when it capsized. “The ship sank and they ended up in the water”he told AFP. He added that the survivors made it to shore near a port on the island and were treated by firefighters and police.

Information about their nationalities was not immediately available, he said. Winds of more than 100 kilometers per hour were blowing in the area, the spokeswoman added. Some of the survivors were able to swim to shore, and a combined operation involving ships at sea and police and fire services on land resulted in the recovery of 80 people.

The sailing ship sank near the port of Diakofti. Has been “completely destroyed“, according to Nikos Kokkolas. Details about the nationality of the castaways were not provided. In the Cithere region, winds reached 102 km/h, the coast guard said.

Greece has seen a spike in migrant smuggling this year, with smugglers often taking the longest and most dangerous route in the south of the country. The improvised boats leave from Lebanon, and no longer from Turkey, to avoid patrols in the Aegean Sea and try to reach Italy. The coast guard said it rescued about 1,500 people in the first eight months of the year, compared with fewer than 600 in 2021.

The dangerous crossing of a few nautical miles between the Greek islands, the gateway to the European Union, and the Turkish coast in the Aegean Sea, located in the eastern Mediterranean, is costing the lives of many migrants and refugees who try to cross on board of improvised boats. boats to flee wars and misery.

64 dead since January 2022

Since January 2022, 64 people have died trying to cross into Europe from nearby Turkish shores, compared to 111 for all of 2021, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Last December, at least 30 people died in three separate migrant boat wrecks in the Aegean Sea. But it is difficult to establish precise data because some bodies are never recovered or are found on shore weeks later.

Athens accuses Ankara of turning a blind eye to smugglers’ practices and allowing migrants to reach Greece in violation of the March 2016 agreement that provided for an effort by Turkey to limit the outflow of refugees and migrants from its territory. Turkey denies these accusations. For its part, Greece is singled out by NGOs and the media for its responsibility for illegal and often violent refoulement at its sea and land borders.

The conservative Greek government has always denied these returns to Turkey, which are contrary to international law, despite serious and documented investigations by international media and NGOs.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greece of turning the Aegean Sea into “graveyard” with “his oppressive policies“. The Greek Migration Minister, Notis Mitarachi, replied that Turkey was pushing the immigrants “with violence“to Greek territorial waters”in violation of international law“.

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