Thursday, 22 August, 2019

Six dead after suspected migrant boat sinking in Aegean Sea

The boat was ferrying migrants from Turkey to Greece The boat was ferrying migrants from Turkey to Greece
Patty Aguilar | 17 March, 2018, 20:12

The boat was ferrying migrants from Turkey to Greece when it went down overnight off the island of Agathonissi.

The wooden boat was believed to have been carrying around 21 people when it sank for reasons that were not immediately clear off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Agathonisi, the coast guard said.

"At least four more (migrants) were unaccounted (for)", a coast guard official told Reuters. The nationality of the victims was not immediately known.

Two women and a man who managed to swim to safety on the island sounded the alarm and port police said they believe two or three people are still missing.

Greek Coast Guard forces were supported by Greek Navy ships, Greek Air Force helicopters and a European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) vessel.

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But dozens and often hundreds of people continue to make the journey each week in rickety inflatable boats or other unseaworthy vessels.

"The latest tragedy at Agathonisi underlines in the worst and saddest way that human life can not depend on the interests of smugglers, nor on the "policies" of states", Greek Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas said.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants flowed into Greece and further west in 2015 from Turkey, making the short but precarious crossing.

Last month, Frontex said that in 2017, the European Union saw the lowest number of detected illegal border-crossings since the migrant crisis began four years ago.

The EU-turkey deal has been criticised by humanitarian groups deterring people from coming who under global law must be granted asylum, such as those fleeing war-torn countries like Syria.

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