More than 30 migrants, many children, drown in Mediterranean

2016-01-28 22:26
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Belgrade - More than 30 migrants drowned in two separate incidents in the Mediterranean on Thursday when their boats and dinghies overturned or sank.

A boat capsized near the Greek island Samos, spilling an unknown number of people into the frigid sea. At least 25 drowned, 10 of them children. Rescuers plucked 10 people from the waves.

In a separate incident, the Italian navy recovered six bodies and rescued 290 people from three dinghies sailing from Libya. The search for survivors and bodies was still ongoing, the navy said.

"It is horrible," a member of the Greek coast guard told dpa as the search continued with vessels from the EU border protection agency Frontex, fishing boats and coast guard helicopters from Greece and Turkey.

On Wednesday seven migrants, including two children, drowned near the island of Kos. A week earlier 42 died in two incidents.

Last year the Greek islands became the main gateway to Europe for people escaping war zones in the Middle East and for so-called economic migrants fleeing poverty in Asia and Africa.

The surge has continued into January, despite the danger of crossing the Aegean Sea in harsh winter weather.

Prior to Thursday’s accidents, the UN refugee agency UNHCR estimated that more than 150 people drowned in the Aegean so far this year.

On Thursday, the mayor of Lesbos, the island where most of more than 850 000 people arrived on their way to Europe in 2015, called on the international community "to stop this tragic situation”.

The mayor, Spyros Galinos, called for the registration of migrants already on Turkish soil, allowing them safe passage from there. "That way there would be no reason for the dangerous sail and refugees would not drown in the Mediterranean," Galinos said.

According to UNHCR, 3 850 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea this year. During the course of 2015, that number was 153 800.

Read more on:    greece  |  migrants

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