At least four people died in the southern Aegean Sea on Thursday after a boat carrying migrants rammed into a small island, Greek authorities said, in a human smuggling case, Greek authorities said. second fatality off the coast of Greece this week.
About 90 people are trapped after a migrant boat crashed Thursday on a rocky island off the Greek island of Antikythera, officials said.
Authorities, alerted to the accident when migrants called Europe’s 112 emergency number, dispatched two ships and a helicopter to the scene. But dark and windy conditions hampered rescue efforts, leaving it unclear when migrants could be pulled from the island to safety.
Elsewhere in the Aegean, rescue teams searched for other survivors from wreck late Tuesday of a migrant boat off the island of Folegandros that left at least three people dead and dozens more unidentified. Thirteen people survived that collision.
The boat that sank on Tuesday – carrying migrants originally from Iraq, Syria and Egypt – began its journey from Turkey, a major stop along the migration route. Authorities have yet to interview survivors of Thursday’s crash to find out their departure points.
The deaths came only a month later 27 people died in an attempt to cross the English Channel from France – and in a week, at least 70 migrants drowned off the coast of Libya. Another 100 people are still missing after the accident, Lana Wreikat, acting special representative for UNICEF Libya, said in a statement on Thursday.
The tragedies have highlighted the risks migrants face on perilous sea lanes to flee conflict or find a better life.
Greece remains an important route for migrants and asylum-seekers, although arrivals have plummeted in recent years, as has the number of deaths at sea, since the height of the refugee crisis. accidents in Europe in 2015-16.
In general, migrants boarding ships in neighboring Turkey are headed for islands in the eastern Aegean, closer to Turkey’s coastline. Neither Antikythera nor Folegandros are on the path often favored by human smugglers, suggesting their tactics may be changing.