ATHENS: At least five children are among the 22 people confirmed dead in the sinking of a sailboat that had been carrying migrants, Greece‘s coast guard said Thursday, while a search and rescue operation continued for 34 others still reported missing.
Only 12 people, all men, have been found alive since the sailboat sank in the treacherous waters between the islands of Evia and Andros, east of the Greek capital, in the early hours of Tuesday. The initial nine survivors had been found on rocks on an uninhabited islet, and had told authorities they had been on a sailboat carrying a total of about 68 people that had set sail from Izmir on the Turkish coast.
They said the boat capsized and sank in rough seas. The initial rescue operation was conducted in gale-force winds seas in the Kafireas Strait between the two islands, an area notorious for rough seas.
The coast guard said Thursday that a total of 22 bodies had been retrieved from the sea, including five children – three boys and two girls – and six women.
The sinking was the latest in a series of recent deadly shipwrecks of boats carrying migrants through Greek seas.
A separate search and rescue operation was being conducted in the eastern Aegean off the island of Samos, which lies near the Turkish coast, for seven people still missing after a dinghy reportedly carrying 12 people capsized on Monday. Four people, who the coast guard said were all Palestinians, were rescued on Monday and one body was recovered on Tuesday.
Thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa, Asia and the Middle East attempt to enter the European Union through Greece each year.
Most make the short but often perilous crossing from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands in often unseaworthy inflatable dinghies. Others opt to attempt to circumvent Greece in overcrowded sailboats and yachts heading straight to Italy.
At least 27 people drowned in two separate shipwrecks last month. In one, 18 people died when a boat that had set sail from Turkey sank off the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos. In the other, a yacht carrying about 100 people sank in a gale, killing at least nine and leaving six others missing.





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