59 dead after boat with refugees and migrants sinks off Greece

At least 59 people have died and more than 100 were rescued after a fishing boat carrying refugees and migrants capsized and sank off the southern coast of Greece.

The Greek coastguard said on Wednesday the vessel sank in international waters southwest of Pylos, off the Peloponnese coast.

The accident prompted an extensive rescue operation complicated by strong winds, the coastguard said in a statement, adding that about 100 people had been rescued.

Four of the survivors were hospitalised in the city of Kalamata with symptoms of hypothermia. None of those rescued had safety equipment such as life jackets, the coastguard said.

Six coastguard vessels, a navy frigate, a military transport and an air force helicopter, as well as several private vessels, were taking part in the search for those missing.

The Italy-bound boat is believed to have sailed from the Tobruk area in eastern Libya.

Greek authorities and the European Union border protection agency Frontex were first alerted about the approaching vessel by the Italian coastguard on Tuesday.

On Sunday, 90 migrants and refugees on a United States-flagged yacht were rescued in the area after they made a distress call.

Separately on Wednesday, a yacht with more than 70 people on board was towed to a port on the south coast of the island of Crete after authorities received a distress call.

Rescue operations are common, but last month the Greek government came under international pressure over video footage reportedly showing the forceful expulsion of migrants and refugees who were set adrift at sea.

Last year, nearly 3,800 people died on migration routes within and from the Middle East and North Africa, the highest number recorded there since 2017, according to data published on Tuesday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The IOM’s Missing Migrants Project recorded 3,789 deaths in 2022 along sea and land routes in the region, including crossings of the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea.


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