At least 15 people were killed and around 30 others were missing when a migrant boat sank off the Greek island of Lesvos, the Greek Coast Guard said on Thursday (October 6). Authorities had previously reported dozens of people missing after another boat that would have been carrying about 95 people sank off Cithere Island, near the Peloponnese peninsula.
The bodies of 15 women, believed to be of African descent, have been recovered in the east of the island of Lesvos, which borders Turkey’s coast in the Aegean, after their boat sank, said a coastguard spokesman, Nikos Kokkalas, on the public television channel ERT. Nine other women were rescued, but 14 others are missing, he added, adding that there were about 40 people on board the boat at the time of the tragedy. “The women were completely freaked out“, he described.
“They landed in the water”
Hours earlier, a spokeswoman said seven people rescued near the island of Kythera said the boat had 95 other people on board when it sank. “The boat sank and they ended up in the water”, she told AFP. She added that the survivors managed to get ashore near a port on the island and were taken care of by firefighters and police.
Information about their nationalities is not readily available, she said. Winds in the area exceeded 100 kilometers per hour, the spokeswoman added. Some of the survivors were able to swim ashore, and a combined operation involving ships at sea and fire and police services ashore resulted in the recovery of 80 people.
The sailboat sank near the port of Diakofti. He was “completely destroyed‘ said Nikos Kokkolas. No information was given on the nationality of the shipwrecked. In the Cithere region, winds reached 102 km/h, the Coast Guard said.
Greece has seen a surge in migrant traffic this year, with smugglers often taking the longest and most dangerous route in the south of the country. The makeshift boats leave Lebanon, no longer Turkey, to bypass the Aegean patrols and try to reach Italy. The Coast Guard said it rescued around 1,500 people in the first eight months of the year, compared to fewer than 600 in 2021.
The perilous crossing of a few nautical miles between the Greek islands, gateway to the European Union, and Turkey’s shores in the Aegean Sea in the eastern Mediterranean claims the lives of many migrants and refugees who attempt the crossing on makeshift boats to escape wars and misery .
64 dead since January 2022
Since January 2022, 64 people have died trying to enter Europe from the nearby Turkish coast, compared with 111 for all of 2021, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Last December, at least 30 people died in three shipwrecks from Migrant boats in the Aegean Sea. However, it is difficult to establish exact dates as some bodies are never recovered or are found on the shore weeks later.
Athens accuses Ankara of ignoring the practices of smugglers and allowing migrants to enter Greece in violation of the March 2016 deal that included Turkey’s efforts to limit the departure of refugees and migrants from its territory. Turkey denies these allegations. For its part, Greece is being highlighted by NGOs and the media for its responsibility in illegal and often violent pushbacks at its sea and land borders.
The conservative Greek government has always denied these pushbacks against Turkey, which violate international law, despite serious and documented investigations by international media and NGOs.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Greece of destroying the Aegean in “cemetery” With “its oppressive policies“. Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi retorted that Turkey is pushing migrants.With violence“into Greek territorial waters”in violation of international law“.