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Survivors of Deadly Migrant Shipwreck Sue Greek Authorities

An overcrowded fishing boat carrying migrants.
Survivors of a tragic migrant shipwreck off the southern coast of Greece three months ago are suing authorities. Credit: Hellenic Coast Guard

Survivors of a tragic migrant shipwreck that occurred three months ago off Pylos, in southern Greece, are suing authorities. They allege a lack of rescue efforts before the vessel capsized in international waters. The incident, which unfolded in mid-June, witnessed the sinking of a modified fishing trawler, leaving hundreds of migrants trapped and deceased.

During a portion of the journey from Libya to Italy, the Greek coast guard had been monitoring the vessel. 104 people were rescued from the sea, while 82 bodies were retrieved. The remaining passengers, including women and children, were locked in the hold at the time of the sinking, which occurred in one of the Mediterranean’s deepest areas, where depths reach around 13,000 feet, making any retrieval of the vessel or its occupants nearly impossible.

Many survivors contest the official version of events, challenging the assertion that repeated offers of assistance by the coast guard were declined. Instead, they claim that a poorly executed attempt to tow the vessel to safety occurred shortly before it capsized and sank.

On Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of 40 survivors against all relevant parties at the port of Piraeus near Athens. The plaintiffs argue that the coast guard did not act promptly. They claim it failed “to rescue the passengers on board the obviously unseaworthy and overloaded fishing vessel,” as stated in a release by three volunteer organizations comprised of lawyers and migrant rights groups providing support for the case.

The lawyers representing the survivors are seeking accountability for the actions and omissions of Greek authorities, pressing for the attribution of criminal responsibility.

The ill-fated fishing trawler was reported to be carrying between 400 to 750 people from Pakistan, Syria, and Egypt when it sank in international waters en route to Italy from Libya.

A judicial inquiry into the incident’s causes is currently underway and may take more than a year to conclude.

Tragedy Off the Coast of Greece

Three months ago, the migrant boat disaster off the southern coast of Greece that claimed the lives of hundreds of migrants, became one of the deadliest incidents in the Mediterranean.

Survivors were transferred to the port city of Kalamata, where they received temporary shelter and necessary supplies. Greek authorities have arrested nine individuals, all Egyptians, suspected of involvement in human trafficking related to the fatal shipwreck.

As was previously reported, some survivors, mainly Pakistanis, alleged that Greek coast guards did not provide rescue assistance. They claimed the ship’s engine had broken down, leaving them stranded for nearly a week. Reports suggested women and children were confined below deck, with limited chances of survival. Deaths also occurred due to a lack of fresh water even before the ship sank. There were reportedly desperate cries for help from those onboard.


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