Up to 19 people are feared to have drowned trying to reach Greece from Turkey, in the deadliest Mediterranean shipwreck since May.
A people smuggler’s boat carrying up to 40 passengers capsized on Tuesday morning between the small Greek islands of Agathonisi and Farmakonisi, 10 miles from the Turkish coast. One passenger has been confirmed dead and 21 have been rescued, leaving as many as 18 still missing. “We don’t know their nationalities,” said Stella Nanou, a UN refugee agency spokeswoman.
The shipwreck is the first major tragedy in the Mediterranean for over a month, due in part to an increase in European search-and-rescue operations in the sea’s central region. But rescue missions remain limited in the eastern Mediterranean, where this year’s migration levels have eclipsed even the record numbers of arrivals to Italy, raising the likelihood of boat disasters.
In the first half of 2015, more than 68,000 migrants – mainly Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi refugees – have risked the short trip from Turkey to the Greek islands, double the total number of arrivals in 201 4.
The influx has overwhelmed Greek institutions, which are already unable to cope with the country’s catastrophic financial crisis.
“Our island can’t …read more