Four children dead in migrant boat sinkings off Greek islands

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Five people, including four children, died and dozens were rescued Monday in two separate incidents involving migrant boats heading to Greek islands from nearby Turkish shores, Greek authorities said.

The coast guard said four people died and 18 were rescued after a boat carrying migrants apparently sank northeast of the Greek island of Lesvos, which is near the Turkish coast. Government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis said all four were children: an 8-year-old boy and three girls aged 14, 8 and 11 months.

Coast guard spokesperson Nikos Alexiou said the incident occurred within Turkish territorial waters but the Turkish coast guard did not conduct a rescue operation, so a Greek patrol boat recovered the passengers. The survivors were taken to Lesvos’ main port of Mytilene, where two people were transferred to a local hospital.

Earlier Monday at about 1 a.m., a coast guard patrol boat spotted a dinghy carrying 37 people off the eastern Aegean island of Samos, the coast guard said. It said the passengers fell into the water upon seeing the patrol boat, triggering a rescue operation.

A woman and a young boy were pulled from the water unconscious and coast guard officers performed CPR, authorities said. The woman died but the boy survived and was transferred to a hospital on Samos along with nine other survivors, the coast guard said.

“We express our deepest sadness” for the five deaths, Marinakis said at a regular briefing. He praised the coast guard for “superhuman efforts” to rescue lives at sea. “It is imperative that the dismal smuggling networks that exploit vulnerable people are struck at their roots,” he said.

Over the weekend, the coast guard said it picked up dozens of people from boats near eastern Aegean Sea islands, part of an increase in new arrivals over the past two months.

It said it recovered 20 people from a dinghy off the coast of Lesvos on Sunday, and 11 others from another dinghy that was sinking near the same island on Saturday.

Two other boats arrived on Samos on Saturday, the coast guard said, one carrying 35 people and one with 21 people.

Source: AP News

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