Friday, 15 November 2013

Greece: 12 migrants found dead after boat capsizes

Twelve migrants were found dead Friday and 15 were rescued after a boat capsized in western Greece, authorities said.

The coast guard continued searching for more possible victims and survivors.

The Merchant Marine Ministry said the victims included four children. The incident occurred early Friday, off the coast of Lefkada, an island in the Ionian Sea and the migrants were presumed to have been headed to nearby Italy, from the western Greek mainland.

Ministry officials said the migrants were aboard a plastic boat that was 23 to 26 feet in length. The survivors were being taken to hospitals for observation, four on the island and the others on the mainland.

Fifteen migrants managed to escape alive and alerted the authorities to the accident near the island of Lefkada, a spokeswoman for the port police told AFP.

"Coast guard boats and divers are continuing the search in the Palairos area, between Lefkada and the mainland," Lefkada mayor Costas Aravanis told The Associated Press.

"The boat sank after dawn in good weather conditions, with low prevailing winds, so it's unclear how this happened. Some of the survivors managed to swim to the shore and call for help. They were not sure exactly how many people were on the boat so we still don't know if there are others still out there."

The migrants’ nationalities and port of departure were not immediately known.

Greece is one of the main ports of entry into the European Union for migrants and refugees fleeing war-torn and impoverished countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.

Refugee traffic has soared over the past year, because of the o

ngoing war in Syria, with arrivals by sea increasing owing to stricter controls on the Greek-Turkish northern land border. Europe's immigration policies have come under the spotlight after more than 400 asylum seekers drowned in October in two tragedies near another popular migrant port of entry, the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Friday 15 November 2013


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