Three drown, many feared missing in migrant shipwreck off Greece

  • World
  • Tuesday, 07 Feb 2023

FILE PHOTO: A fishing boat approaches a half-sunken inflatable boat that was carrying migrants off the island of Leros, Greece, February 5, 2023. Hellenic Coast Guard/Handout via REUTERS

ATHENS (Reuters) -Three people drowned and 11 were believed to be missing in the second migrant shipwreck off Greece this week, the Greek Coast Guard said on Tuesday, as the search continued in cold and windy weather.

The Coast Guard said in a statement that 27 people were rescued in an operation that began in the early hours of Tuesday, after an inflatable rubber boat was spotted on rocks along the coast of the island of Lesbos, near Turkey.

At least 10 people were taken to hospital, authorities said, some suffering from hypothermia as a cold weather front brought freezing temperatures and snow across many parts of Greece this week. Others were huddled in thick blankets on the side of the road as they received help by aid workers, Reuters television pictures showed.

Survivors told authorities that about 41 people were on board the dinghy that had sailed from the Turkish coast. Two coast guard vessels and a Super Puma helicopter were assisting in the search operation amid strong winds, the Coast Guard said.

State broadcaster ERT said the migrants were from Syria, Yemen and Somalia, citing survivors' accounts.

Greece has long been one of the main entry points into the European Union for refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Most cross on inflatable boats from Turkey, a short but perilous journey during which thousands have died.

Four migrants, including three children, died after their boat sank off the island of Leros in the southeastern Aegean Sea on Sunday.

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

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