Dozens feared dead after migrant boat sinks off Kaparthos island

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Dozens of people are feared to have died off the Greek island of Kaparthos after their boat sank while attempting to make the perilous crossing from Turkey, The Guardian has reported.

Greek Coast Guard officials said that 29 men were rescued 33 nautical miles off Kaparthos, with up to 50 people still missing.

Those rescued were from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, and told authorities there had been roughly 60 to 80 people on board the vessel when it went down.

The boat had set sail from the Antalya area on the southern Turkish coast and had been heading to Italy when it ran into trouble during the night.

A massive search operation by port authorities and navy officials will continue for the next few hours.

The Greek Shipping Minister, Ioannis Plakiotakis, said the Hellenic navy, air force, coast guard patrol boats, as well as commercial ships sailing in the southern Aegean at the time, had all joined the search and rescue operation.

“Protecting human life is a daily concern and our absolute priority,” Plakiotakis said in a statement. “In the last two years, in 145 search and rescue operations, more than 6,000 people have been saved.”

“As always, like today, Greece is saving lives in the Aegean.”

The most common sea route for migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa has been from Turkey to nearby Greek islands.

The influx of Europe-bound migrants to Greece has dropped dramatically over the past year, but this week’s crossing is a reminder of the lengths people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa are willing to endure to find refuge in the west.

READ MORE: Turkey blames Greece after 12 migrants freeze to death near border.

Source: The Guardian.

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