2023s deadliest migrant shipwreck off greece sees at least 59 deaths
At least 59 migrants have been confirmed dead after a fishing boat carrying them sank in international waters in the Ionian Sea, the Greek coastguard said while announcing the latest toll. Previously 32 fatalities had been reported.
Wednesday’s accident off the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece prompted an intensive rescue operation that was complicated by high winds. So far, around 100 migrants have been rescued and brought to Kalamata, though four in serious condition were airlifted to the port’s hospital.
The shipwreck is considered the deadliest off Greece in 2023. In addition to navy vessels, the rescue operation included an army plane and helicopter as well as several other boats that were in the area.
According to the coastguard, the boat – which was on its way to Italy – was detected in international waters late on Tuesday by a Frontex aircraft and nearby vessels, around 80 km southwest of the town of Pylos in southern Greece.
It said those on board refused assistance from Greek authorities late on Tuesday. A handful of hours later, the boat sank in international waters, triggering an intensive search and rescue operation. None on board were wearing life jackets, the coastguard added.
State broadcaster ERT said the boat had sailed from Libya, with most onboard being young men in their 20s. Authorities haven’t yet confirmed their nationalities. The incident highlights the risks involved while making the perilous journey to Europe.
For migrants and refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, Greece is one of the main routes to the EU. While a majority of people cross to Greek islands from nearby Turkey, an increasing number of boats are now taking the longer journey from Turkey to Italy via Greece.
So far this year, more than 70,000 migrants and refugees have already arrived in Europe’s frontline countries, including Spain, Malta, Cyprus, Italy and Greece, United Nations data reveals. The majority of these groups are known to land in Italy.