At least seventy eight migrants drowned early on Wednesday and greater have been feared lacking after their overloaded boat capsized and sank off Greece, in one of Europe’s deadliest shipwrecks this 12 months.
By noon, 104 human beings have been rescued, government stated, but it remained unclear how many had been on board whilst the vessel — whose occupants the coast shield said had refused an offer of help overdue on Tuesday – went below.
“We fear the quantity of useless will upward thrust,” stated a shipping ministry authentic who spoke on circumstance of anonymity. Greece is one of the foremost routes into the European Union for refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Most pass over to Greek islands from close by Turkey, but a developing wide variety of boats additionally adopt a longer, extra risky journey from Turkey to Italy through Greece. State broadcaster ERT stated the boat that sank had set sail from the Libyan town of Tobruk, which lies south of the Greek island of Crete, and turned into headed to Italy.The catastrophe is the deadliest off Greece this yr, and most of the worst in Europe. In February, 96 humans died when their timber boat smashed into rocks on Italy’s Calabrian coast throughout a typhoon. Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, called on governments to paintings together on developing safe pathways for human beings fleeing poverty and war.
“Only disappointment and anger after every other lethal tragedy at sea inside the Mediterranean,” he wrote on Twitter. Greece is currently led by way of a caretaker government ahead of a national election on June 25. The Greek coast shield stated the boat became first spotted late on Tuesday with the aid of EU border agency Frontex in international waters round 50 miles (80 km) southwest of the southern Greek coastal city of Pylos.
A Greek coast defend vessel then approached the boat, which become en course to Italy, and offered assist. The massive quantity of migrants on its outer deck “refused assistance and stated their preference to retain their voyage,” the coast shield said.
A few hours later the boat capsized and sank, triggering a search and rescue operation. Broadcaster ERT said most of those on board were young men in their 20s.The delivery ministry legit said maximum have been from Egypt, Syria and Pakistan, although Greek authorities did not confirm the vessels port of departure. Survivors were taken to the town of Kalamata, where the united states’s president Katerina Sakellaropoulou become expected to go to.
Greece become on the frontline of Europe’s 2015 migration disaster, whilst almost 1 million humans arrived on its islands from Turkey before heading north to wealthier European states. Numbers have fallen dramatically on account that a 2016 deal struck between Brussels and Ankara to stem the flows, at the same time as the previous conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis had stated a tough policy – which protected greater border patrols and migrant camps under heavy surveillance – helped preserve arrivals low.
About 72,000 refugees and migrants have arrived so far this yr in Europe’s frontline Mediterranean countries, according to United Nations statistics, with most people touchdown in Italy and around 6,500 in Greece. Nearly 1,000 human beings are expected to have died or gone lacking inside the Mediterranean this 12 months, according to the UN.