17 more migrants, including nine children, die in Aegean

17 more migrants, including nine children, die in Aegean

17 more migrants, including nine children, die in Aegean

DHA Photo

At least 13 migrants, six of them children, have drowned as two boats making the hazardous crossing from Turkey capsized in the Aegean Sea off Greece on Nov. 1, the Turkish Coast Guard has said, adding to the three children and one woman who died off Turkey’s Çanakkale. 

The first tragedy occurred off the island of Samos when a boat overturned just 20 meters from the shore.

Ten bodies - including six children, four of them babies - were found in the vessel’s cabin while that of a girl washed up on the island, where dozens of refugees have perished trying to reach Europe in recent days.

The Coast Guard said two others were still missing while 15 had been plucked from the water.

A boat from European border agency Frontex also recovered two bodies near the island of Farmakonnisi, near Samos, the Coast Guard said.

Frontex also rescued three others, who said their boat was carrying 15 people when it sank in Turkish waters.

Greek authorities and the Turkish Coast Guard “continue to search the zone to find the migrants who disappeared in the sinking, which probably took place off the Turkish coast,” a representative of the Greek Coast Guard’s press office told AFP.

Separately, four migrants, including three children, died after three dinghies bringing mostly Afghan migrants to Greece capsized off the Aegean coastal province of Çanakkale on Oct. 31. 

Three plastic boats carrying around 140 people capsized in the Aegean Sea due to bad weather and sea conditions after setting sail from Sivrice bay in the province’s Ayvacık district at around 5:00 p.m. on Oct. 31, heading for Greece’s Lesbos Island. 

A passing dry cargo vessel noticed the migrants floating in the sea and brought around 130 aboard while also informing the Turkish Coast Guard, who rescued seven migrants with a helicopter, bringing them to Edremit State Hospital for treatment. Two children out of the seven migrants succumbed to their injuries in hospital, while officials found the bodies of a woman and a child at sea. 

Because of a storm in the Aegean, the vessel could not immediately bring the 130 migrants to port.

Meanwhile, police raided a depot on Oct. 30 in the western province of İzmir in which non-standard zodiac boats were being produced for migrants to use for their voyage to Greece. 

Coast Guard officers had been spotting non-standard boats during their migrant rescue efforts on the Aegean Sea but could not determine the source until the raid in İzmir.

The police detained a total of 19 people, seven Turks and 12 Syrians, for alleged involvement in human smuggling activities during the raid.

The fresh capsizing incidents have added to a string of migrant boat tragedies since Oct. 26 off the Greek islands of Lesbos, Kalymnos and Rhodes in which more than 60 people have drowned, at least 28 of them children.

On Oct. 30 alone 22 people, including 17 children, lost their lives trying to cross to the eastern Aegean islands from Turkey, to which more than two million Syrian refugees have fled. That followed another black day on Oct. 28 when 24 migrants - 11 of them children - died in five shipwrecks off Lesbos, Samos and Agathonisi.

With the arrival of rough winter weather, and fears that Europe is about to close its doors to refugees, more than 80 people - most of them children - drowned trying to reach Greece in October, according to an AFP count.

Since the beginning of the year, 580,125 migrants have landed on Greece’s shores, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, with a total of 723,221 crossing the Mediterranean to Europe.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Oct. 30 that the drownings were a “humanitarian tragedy” and a “shame” for Europe.