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At least 78 migrants dead and dozens feared missing after fishing vessel sinks off Greece

by Joshua Brown
1 comment
migrant boat sinking

Dozens of migrants are feared missing and at least 78 have died after a fishing vessel carrying them sank off the coast of Greece. This tragic incident is one of the most devastating disasters of its kind this year. The Greek coast guard, navy, and merchant vessels have launched a wide-scale search-and-rescue operation, involving aircraft and a helicopter.

As of now, 104 individuals have been rescued after the boat sank in international waters approximately 75 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of Greece’s southern Peloponnese peninsula. The location is near one of the deepest parts of the Mediterranean Sea. The exact number of passengers still in the water or trapped in the sunken vessel remains uncertain, but initial reports indicate that hundreds of people may have been on board.

Four survivors suffering from hypothermia have been hospitalized, while many others have been provided with dry clothes and medical attention in designated areas set up by ambulance services and the United Nations Refugee Agency in the southern port of Kalamata.

So far, the Greek coast guard has recovered 78 bodies. The ill-fated boat is believed to have departed from the Tobruk area in eastern Libya. Since the overthrow of longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, Libya has descended into chaos, providing human traffickers with an opportunity to exploit the instability and make it a major departure point for people attempting to reach Europe on smuggler’s boats.

The Italian coast guard initially alerted Greek authorities and the European Union border protection agency, Frontex, about the approaching vessel on Tuesday. According to the United Nations migration agency, IOM, initial reports indicated that up to 400 individuals were on board. However, an activist network received a distress call from another boat in the same vicinity, with passengers claiming that 750 people were on board, although it’s unclear if this was the same vessel that sank.

After the initial alert, Frontex aircraft and two merchant ships spotted the boat traveling north at high speed, as reported by the Greek coast guard. Additional aircraft and ships were dispatched to the area. Despite repeated offers of assistance, the coast guard’s attempts to help were declined by the passengers.

In the evening, a coast guard patrol boat reached the vessel and confirmed the presence of a large number of migrants on the deck. However, they refused any assistance and expressed their intention to continue to Italy. Tragically, the migrant vessel capsized and sank early on Wednesday, leading to an extensive rescue operation involving all nearby ships.

Alarm Phone, an activist network providing a hotline for migrants in distress, received contact from people on a boat in trouble on Tuesday afternoon. Although this boat was in the same general area as the sunken vessel, it’s uncertain if it was the same one. Alarm Phone promptly notified Greek authorities and Frontex. According to the organization, migrants on the distressed boat reported overcrowding and the abandonment of the ship by the captain on a small boat. They requested food and water, which were provided by a merchant ship.

Mediterranean smugglers often attempt to remain in international waters as they pass Greece to evade detection by the coast guard patrols. On Sunday, a U.S.-flagged yacht carrying 90 migrants was rescued in the same area after making a distress call.

The search for the sunken boat currently involves six Greek coast guard vessels, a navy frigate, a military transport plane, an air force helicopter, several private vessels, and a Frontex drone. Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou has headed to the area to oversee the assistance provided to the rescued migrants, and political campaign events leading up to the national elections on June 25 have been canceled.

In a separate incident on Wednesday, a yacht carrying 81 migrants was towed to a port on the south coast of the Greek island of Crete following a distress call.

This report includes contributions from journalists Nicholas Paphitis in Athens, Greece, Sam Magdy in Cairo, and Renata Brito in Barcelona, Spain.

For more information on global migration, follow AP stories at https://bigbignews.net/migration.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about migrant boat sinking

What happened off the coast of Greece regarding the fishing boat and migrants?

A fishing boat carrying migrants capsized and sank off the coast of Greece, resulting in the death of at least 78 people and leaving many others missing. It is considered one of the worst disasters of its kind this year.

How many people have been rescued so far?

As of now, 104 individuals have been rescued from the sunken boat.

Where did the boat sink?

The boat sank in international waters approximately 75 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of Greece’s southern Peloponnese peninsula, close to one of the deepest areas of the Mediterranean Sea.

What is the suspected origin of the boat and migrants?

The boat is believed to have sailed from the Tobruk area in eastern Libya. Libya has become a major departure point for migrants attempting to reach Europe due to the instability following the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Were there any warning signs or alerts before the sinking?

The Italian coast guard first alerted Greek authorities and the European Union border protection agency, Frontex, about the approaching vessel. Reports suggested that up to 400 people may have been on board, and distress calls were received from a boat in the same area with an estimated 750 passengers.

Was assistance offered to the migrants before the sinking?

Repeated offers of assistance were made by the coast guard and merchant ships, but the migrants declined further aid and expressed their intention to continue to Italy.

What is being done to locate the missing migrants?

A vast search-and-rescue operation involving the Greek coast guard, navy, merchant vessels, aircraft, and helicopters has been launched to locate the missing migrants.

Are there any other incidents related to migrant rescues in the area?

Prior to this incident, a U.S.-flagged yacht carrying 90 migrants was rescued in the same area after making a distress call.

What is the current status of the rescue operation?

Multiple ships, including coast guard vessels, a navy frigate, private vessels, and a drone from Frontex, are involved in the ongoing search and rescue operation.

How is the situation being addressed by authorities?

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou has visited the area to oversee the assistance provided to the rescued migrants. Additionally, political campaign events leading up to the national elections have been canceled.

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1 comment

EmmaSmith June 14, 2023 - 5:37 pm

Ths shows the prblem of human trffickers takng advantage of people. We need better solutions and safer routes for migrants. #MigrationCrisis

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