Three dead, dozens missing as refugee boat sinks off Greek coast

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Greek authorities have ramped up a sea-and-air search and rescue operation in the Aegean Sea after a migrant smuggling vessel sank, leaving at least three people dead and dozens reported missing.

The coast guard on Wednesday said 12 people, all believed to be from Iraq, were rescued from an inflatable dinghy off the island of Folegandros in the southern Cyclades, 180km southeast of Athens.

The bodies of three unidentified men were recovered from the sea.

The survivors said they had been on a larger boat that took on water and sank overnight. Most said there were originally 32 people on the boat, but one told authorities there were about 50.

Three dead, dozens missing as refugee boat sinks off Greek coast.

The coast guard said a navy frigate joined four coast guard vessels, eight merchant ships, three smaller private vessels, three military helicopters and a military transport plane taking part in the search and rescue operation as night approached.

“The survivors made it onto a dinghy that was tethered to the (bigger) vessel. Only two of them were wearing life jackets,” Coast Guard spokesman, Nikos Kokkalas, told state-run ERT television.

“We always presume the worst-case scenario, in this case that 50 people were on the boat.”

The coast guard said the operation began on Tuesday night after it received information that a vessel carrying migrants had suffered engine failure and later began taking on water south of Folegandros.

Source: Ekathimerini.

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