At least twenty-two people drowned and many are missing after two migrant boats sank off Greece on the islands of Lesvos and Kythera on Wednesday evening.
Rescuers retrieved eighteen bodies overnight off the Aegean island of Lesvos near the Turkish coast. Sixteen of the victims are women of the age of “twenty years and upward,” according to an official, and all are African, likely Somali, authorities said.
Fifteen migrants—eleven men and four women—of African origin were found wandering on the island on Thursday.
On Kythera hundreds of miles southwest of Lesvos, four people were found dead and another eleven to fifteen people are still missing after the migrant boat crashed into rocky cliffs. At the time, winds between ninety to one hundred kilometers per hour were recorded. The sailboat sank within five minutes, authorities said.
Kythera is on a route often used by smugglers to bypass Greece and head directly to Italy.
Greece’s PM expresses deep sorrow for the victims of the migrant boats
“I would like to express my deep sorrow for the tragic loss of life…despite the heroic efforts of the Hellenic Coast Guard,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said from Prague, where he was attending a meeting of forty-four European nations.
“I think this is a time to really cooperate much more substantially in order to avoid these types of incidents [from] occurring in the future and to completely eradicate the smugglers who prey upon innocent people…who try to reach the European continent in vessels which are clearly not seaworthy,” Mitsotakis added.
Greece’s Immigration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis urged Turkey to take measures to prevent migrant boats from leaving the coast due to harsh weather conditions.
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