WORLD Over a dozen dead in Greece migrant boat accidents


Over a dozen dead in Greece migrant boat accidents


12:13, December 25, 2021

Refugees and migrants aboard an inflatable boat sail on the sea before arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos. (Photo: AFP)

At least three people died when a migrant boat sank in the Aegean Sea on Friday, just hours after a similar incident claimed another 11 lives, Greece's Coast Guard said.

The latest tragedy – the third since Wednesday – came amid high smuggler activity not seen in Greek waters in months.

The Coast Guard said it had found three bodies and rescued 57 people after a boat overturned and sank near the island of Paros.

Hours earlier, 11 bodies were recovered from a boat that ran aground on an islet north of the Greek island of Antikythera on Thursday evening. Ninety people stranded on the islet were rescued, including 27 children and 11 women, the Coast Guard said.

On Wednesday, a dinghy carrying migrants capsized off the island of Folegandros, killing at least three people. Thirteen people were rescued, while dozens remain missing, Greek authorities said.

Survivors gave conflicting accounts, with some saying there had been 32 people on board, while others put the number at around 50, a Coast Guard official told AFP.

The UN refugee agency United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the Folegandros accident was the worst in the Aegean Sea this year. "This shipwreck is a painful reminder that people continue to embark on perilous voyages in search of safety," said Adriano Silvestri, the UNHCR's assistant representative in Greece.

The UNHCR estimates that more than 2,500 people have died or gone missing at sea in their attempt to reach Europe from January through November this year.

Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union (EU) for migrants and refugees from Africa, the Middle East and beyond, though the flow had tapered off since 2015-2016, when more than a million people traversed the country to other EU states.

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