At least 16 women dead after boat capsizes off Lesbos

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The disaster involving migrants in waters off Greece follows another near Kythira in which 15 are still missing


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A migrant being saved during a large-scale rescue operation on the island of Kythira.
A migrant being saved during a large-scale rescue operation on the island of Kythira. Photograph: Ippolytos Prekas/AP

Reuters in AthensThu 6 Oct 2022

At least 16 women have died after a boat sank off the Greek island of Lesbos in the central Aegean Sea early on Thursday, in the second maritime disaster involving migrants in a day, the country’s coastguard said.

The sunken boat was carrying about 40 people, the coastguard said, citing the people rescued so far. There were 16 bodies recovered, a coastguard official said. Another nine women were rescued and about 15 people were missing.

The boat sank east of Lesbos, which lies close to Turkey’s coast.

The Greek migration minister, Notis Mitarachi, tweeted a call for Turkey to take “immediate action to prevent all irregular departures due to harsh weather conditions”, adding: “Already today many lives lost in the Aegean, people are drowning in unseaworthy vessels. EU must act.”

Simon Tisdall

In the earlier incident, Greek authorities rescued 80 migrants whose boat sank after hitting a rocky area in stormy waters near the island of Kythira in southern Greece on Wednesday. According to those rescued, 15 were still missing and the search and rescue operation was ongoing.

On Thursday, a Greek coastguard vessel and an air force helicopter were rushing to conduct a search and rescue operation near Lesbos, with strong winds blowing in the area.

A search was being conducted along the wider coast of Lesbos for migrants who may have made it to the shores. Three were found trapped in a remote area.

Greece was at the frontline of a European migration crisis in 2015 and 2016, when 1 million refugees fleeing war and poverty in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in the country, mainly via Turkey.

The number of arrivals has fallen sharply since. But Greek authorities say they have recently seen a big increase in attempted entries through the country’s islands and land border with Turkey.


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