Dozens still missing after migrant boat sinks in Greece as 29 rescued

An air and sea rescue operation was underway Wednesday after around 50 people went missing when a migrant boat sank in the Aegean Sea.

The vessel foundered at dawn off the islands of Karpathos and Rhodes after setting sail on Tuesday from Antalya, southern Turkey, heading for Italy.

The Greek coastguard said “according to the statements of 29 rescued people, there were 80 people on the boat, so up to 50 people are missing.”

The rescue effort, ordered by merchant shipping minister Yannis Plakiotakis, included four vessels already sailing in the southern Aegean, two coastguard patrol boats and a Greek air force helicopter.

However, strong winds of up to 50 kilometres per hour reportedly hampered the operation, and many of those shipwrecked were not wearing life-jackets.

A video posted by the coastguard showed an army helicopter rescuing two survivors from the sea and transferring them to Karpathos.

Another 27 people were transferred to land aboard a tanker that joined the search off the island of Kos.

Dozens of deaths

Although the migrant boat appears to have been trying to get to Italy, Greece is often the country of choice for people fleeing Africa and the Middle East to try to reach a better life in the European Union.

Thousands come to Greece via Turkey over the narrow, yet perilous sea crossing separating the traditional rivals.

According to the International Organization for Migration, at least sixty-four people have perished in the eastern Mediterranean since January.

Eight people died off the Greek island of Mykonos on 19 June when 108 more were rescued, according to the UN migration body.

On Sunday, the Greek coastguard said 122 migrants were rescued near Rhodes after their vessel ran into trouble after sailing from Turkey.

Athens says migrant arrival numbers have climbed this year and accuses Ankara of not doing enough to stop smugglers from sending them across the border – often in flimsy boats that make for dangerous journeys.

Turkey pledged under a 2016 deal to cut migrant numbers leaving its shores in return for financial aid from the European Union.

At the end of June, the EU urged Ankara to halt “violent and illegal expulsions” from its territory.


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