50 missing after migrant boat capsizes off Greece in the Aegean Sea

50 missing after migrant boat capsizes off Greece in the Aegean Sea

Aug 11 2022

ARK News... A Greek coast guard official on Wednesday told AFP that "50 people were considered missing" in the sinking of a migrant boat off the Greek island of Karpathos in the Aegean Sea.

"According to the testimonies of 29 people who were rescued," the official said. There were 80 people on the boat, which means 50 people are missing." The Greek coast guard has been searching since Wednesday morning for the missing people whose boat sank after sailing from the coast of neighboring Turkey.

The Minister of the Merchant Navy, Yannis Plakiotakis, ordered the start of the rescue operation at dawn on Wednesday after he was informed of the sinking of the migrant boat off the islands of Karpathos and Rhodes in the Aegean Sea, according to a statement issued by the coast guard.

Initial information issued by the Coast Guard indicated that the boat had sailed from the city of Antalya, on the neighboring Turkish coast, and was heading to Italy.

Four boats from the sinking area, two coast guard boats, and a Greek Air Force helicopter are participating in the process of tracing the missing.

Coast Guard spokesman Nikos Kokalas told Skai radio that the search work was delayed by strong winds that ranged between 40 and 50 kilometers per hour, noting that "a number of the drowned were not wearing life jackets."

The dangerous crossing of a few nautical miles between the Greek islands and Turkish shores in the Aegean, in the eastern Mediterranean, often kills the many migrants who seek to go to Europe on rickety boats in order to escape war and poverty.

Since January 2022, 64 people have been killed in the eastern Mediterranean, while 111 people were killed in 2021, according to the International Organization for Migration.

The last drowning incident in the Aegean occurred on June 19, when eight people were killed off the island of Mykonos while 108 people were rescued by the Greek coast guard.

The Greek authorities indicated that the number of migrants and refugees coming from Turkey to Greece has increased this year.

Athens accuses Ankara of condoning the practices of smugglers and allowing migrants to come to Greece, in violation of the agreement reached in March 2016 which stipulated that Turkey would work to limit immigration from its territory, in return for European financial aid. Turkey denies the accusations.

Greece, for its part, faces accusations from NGOs and the media for its responsibility in the forced and illegal removal of migrants from its sea and land borders. Greece's conservative government says it has long refused to implement such measures.

At the end of June, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson called on Athens to end the "violent and illegal expulsions" of migrants.

Source: AFP