Dozens perish in wreck off Greece’s coast

Greece
Thu, 15 Jun 2023 8:24 GMT
In one of the greatest tragedies of its kind this year, a fishing boat carrying migrants trying to reach Europe capsized and sank off the southern coast of Greece on Wednesday, leaving at least 79 people dead and many more missing.
Dozens perish in wreck off Greece’s coast

In one of the greatest tragedies of its kind this year, a fishing boat carrying migrants trying to reach Europe capsized and sank off the southern coast of Greece on Wednesday, leaving at least 79 people dead and many more missing. Initial reports suggested there could have been some 500 people on board from Pakistan, Egypt and Syria.

A massive search and rescue operation that would last all night was launched by the coast guard, navy, merchant ships and aircraft. Although the number of passengers lost remained unknown, some early accounts suggested that hundreds of people may have been on board when the boat capsized far from shore.

The boat sank in international waters about 75 kilometers southwest of the southern town of Pylos in the Peloponnese, according to the authorities, and 104 people were rescued. The location is near to the Mediterranean’s deepest point, and the depth could make it difficult to find a sunken ship. Many of the people who were rescued from the sea were clinging to debris and couldn’t swim. None, according to the coast guard, had life jackets.

“All the migrants went to one side – because they were nervous maybe – and it tipped over. Imagine a boat about 25-30 meters. According to what they say, the migrants number around 700 or more people,” a coast guard official said during a briefing to President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

Many exhausted survivors were taken to the port of Kalamata and given sleeping bags and blankets by rescuers in a large warehouse, while paramedics set up tents outside for anyone who required first aid.

Caretaker Prime Minister Ioannis Sarmas declared three days of national mourning until Saturday, while Kalamata Mayor Athanasios Vasilopoulos mourned that Greece has “never experienced such a tragedy.” The Migration Ministry said that the shipwreck “brings to the fore once again, in the most tragic way, the need to dismantle the global human trafficking networks which place migrants’ lives in danger.”

The leaders of all Greek political parties expressed their grief over the shocking tragedy. New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mistotakis postponed Wednesday’s campaign rally in the western port city of Patra. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that she was “deeply saddened by the news of the shipwreck… and the many reported deaths.”

The Migration Ministry said rescued migrants will be transferred to the Reception and Identification Center in, East Attica. Twenty-five survivors, ranging in age from 16 to 49, were admitted to the hospital experiencing fever or hypothermia. The boat destined for Italy is thought to have departed from the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk. Human traffickers have made Libya one of the primary starting sites for those sailing to Europe in smuggler boats.

kathimerini

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