At Least 16 Dead After Migrant Boat Capsizes Off Greece
The wreck late Friday in the Aegean Sea, the third in Greek waters in three days, was another reminder of the risks asylum seekers face.,
The wreck late Friday in the Aegean Sea, the third in Greek waters in three days, was another reminder of the risks asylum seekers face.
At least 16 people died late Friday in the Aegean Sea after a boat carrying migrants capsized, the Greek authorities said, the third episode in three days that when combined have led to at least 30 deaths this past week in Greek waters.
Sixty-three people were rescued in what the Greek Coast Guard described in a statement as a “gigantic” operation that began Friday, after a boat foundered off the island of Paros, and that continued Saturday morning.
The cause of the latest sinking was unclear as of Saturday afternoon.
The Greek authorities are still searching for survivors from the two earlier wrecks, which were farther south in the Aegean, off the islands of Folegandros and Antikythera.
On Thursday and Friday, divers recovered 11 bodies after a boat struck rocks near Antikythera, leaving about 90 migrants stranded there for the night. A video released on Friday by the Greek authorities showed the rescue mission.
And a wreck of a migrant boat late Tuesday off the island of Folegandros left at least three people dead and dozens unaccounted for, Greece’s Coast Guard said on Wednesday. Thirteen people survived that crash, and the Coast Guard said that some survivors said 30 to 50 people had been aboard the vessel.
Neither Antikythera, Folegandros nor Paros are along the route generally favored by people smugglers, suggesting that they might have changed their tactics, possibly to avoid a crackdown by the Greek authorities in the eastern Aegean, where patrols have been intensified in recent months.
The Coast Guard said that the boats appeared to have been destined for Italy. Typically, migrants boarding vessels in neighboring Turkey head to islands in the eastern Aegean, which are closer to the Turkish coastline.
On Saturday afternoon, Greece’s immigration minister, Notis Mitarachi, made a plea to Turkey to prevent smuggling boats from even setting out.
“Greece continues to save lives at sea and fight the smuggling networks, but it’s not enough,” Mr. Mitarachi wrote on Twitter. “The loss of life in the Aegean is shocking. We must all condemn this criminality while calling on Turkey to redouble its efforts to prevent illegal departures.”
The episodes this week come only a month after 27 people died in an attempt to cross the English Channel to Britain from France — and in a week in which at least 70 migrants drowned off the coast of Libya. The tragedies have also underscored the risks faced by migrants embarking on perilous sea routes in a bid to flee conflict or seek better lives.
Greece remains a key route for migrants and asylum seekers, though arrivals have dropped sharply in recent years, as have deaths at sea, since the peak of Europe’s refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016.