Disasters & Accidents

79 Migrants die in shipwreck off Greece

Athens, Jun 14 (EFE).- The number of confirmed deaths from Wednesday’s wreck of a migrant-laden boat off the coast of Greece stands at 79 and is likely to grow as hundreds are feared missing, a spokesperson for the Greek coast guard told EFE.

Of the 104 people rescued so far, 24 have been taken to hospital in the city of Kalamata, some 250 km (155 mi) southwest of Athens.

All 104 of those migrants were males from Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, and the Palestinian territories, the coast guard spokesperson said.

Some Greek media outlets said that the 30-meter-long vessel was carrying at least 400 migrants of various nationalities, while others reported that 700 people were aboard.

Greek President Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou traveled to Kalamata to appraise the situation and the leaders of the country’s political parties canceled campaign rallies ahead of the June 25 legislative elections.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the Greek mission of the United Nations Refugee Agency described the shipwreck as an “inconceivable tragedy” and stressed that the deaths could have been avoided if the relevant authorities had worked to make migration across the Mediterranean safer.

Officials have deployed 10 vessels, a navy frigate, a helicopter, and a drone from the European Union (EU) border agency Frontex to assist in the search and rescue efforts.

The boat was traveling from Libya to Italy when it capsized and sank off the southwest coast of the Peloponnese peninsula.

The Greek coast guard said that the vessel was spotted Tuesday afternoon in international waters and that one of its patrols approached the boat later in the day to after observing a large number of people on the outer deck.

But according to the coast guard statement, those onboard declined the offer and they wanted to continue their journey to Italy.

Hours after Wednesday’s shipwreck, the coast guard rescued an additional 80 refugees from a sailboat found adrift south of Crete.

Last Sunday, Greek authorities rescued 90 migrants from another stranded boat. EFE dsp-ssk/ks/dr

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