At least four migrants died and several are missing after a migrant boat capsized and sank off the island of Leros, Greece on Sunday.
Three children died in a hospital on Leros island after being rescued from a remote part of the island when the dinghy carrying several migrants capsized.
Earlier reports noted that the bodies of a woman and a child had been collected from the sea off southeast Leros, in the SE Aegean.
According to Port Authorities, two boys and a girl around 5 years old had been hospitalized but did not survive, while the authorities had collected the body of a woman aged around 20 from the sea.
A total of 39 people were rescued, including 17 men, 17 women, and 6 children. The 3 that died were among the 6. Two adults remain hospitalized.
Most migrants are of African descent, and the dinghy had started off from the Turkish coast. Winds at sea registered 8 on the Beaufort scale, with low visibility and heavy rain.
In statements earlier, Shipping and Island Policy Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis commended the Port Authority and Coast Guard, as well as the Air Force, Hellenic Police, and private residents who helped.
“Unfortunately, we have for yet another time innocent victims who lost their lives because of the criminal stance of human traffickers,” who he said “start off from Turkey, under the tolerance of Turkish authorities.”
The search continues with three Coast Guard vessels and a Super Puma helicopter by sea, as well as police officers on land.
Together with Spain and Italy, Greece is one of the main entry points into the European Union for refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Most asylum-seekers cross to Greece from neighboring Turkey.
In November 2022 Greek authorities recovered twenty bodies of migrants off the island of Evia after a boat sank.
In October, at least seventeen migrants died after two separate boats sank off Lesvos and Kythera.
Greece’s Immigration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis urged Turkey to take measures to prevent migrant boats from leaving the coast during harsh weather conditions.