Migrant Shipwreck Off Greek Coast Leaves 11 Dead, Including 5 Children

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A wooden boat carrying about 50 Middle Eastern migrants capsized off the Greek island of Farmakonisi Wednesday morning, killing at least eleven people, including five children.

The Coast Guard managed to rescue 26 of the passengers, but 13 others are still missing. Though belonging to Greece, the small Island of Farmakonisi is not far from the coast of Turkey, from where the boat had departed.

The Greek harbor police said that perhaps ten others disappeared in the waves, which suggests that many more may have died than early numbers indicated. According to the survivors, the boat began to take in water and then sank, despite the light winds and calm seas.

The four surviving children were transferred by helicopter to a hospital near the island of Samos with severe symptoms of hypothermia.

Meanwhile, search efforts have continued in the southeast Aegean where the shipwreck occurred, but so far, no more survivors have been discovered. Two coastguard boats, an army, a private boat and a helicopter continue to comb the area for the missing.

On Tuesday, six Afghan children who were trying to reach the Greek island of Chios, further north, drowned off the coast of the Turkish province of Izmir when their boat sank. The Turkish coast guard recovered the bodies of the children, including a newborn infant.

The arrival of winter has done little to stem the arrivals of migrant boats from Turkey, and every day in the Athenian port of Piraeus about a thousand people continue to land. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), so far this year, Greece has received about 700 thousand mainly Syrian migrants, the largest number of refugees and migrants arriving into Europe by sea.

In this same period, over 500 of the migrants—the majority children—have died at sea.

According to the director general of the Migrantes Foundation, Monsignor Giancarlo Perego, the number of dead in the Mediterranean has more than doubled in 2015 compared to 2014—from 1600 to over 3200. Of these, 700 children have died so far this year.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.


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