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8 Afghan immigrants drown as boat sinks in Greece

8 Afghan immigrants drown as boat sinks in Greece

Three adults and five children drowned in the eastern Aegean Sea on Tuesday when a small boat carrying 17 illegal immigrants from Afghanistan hit rocks near the shore and sank, Greek authorities said.
An 18th survivor, only identified as a Turkish man, was arrested on suspicion of belonging to a smuggling gang that ferried the migrants from the nearby coast of Turkey to the Greek island of Lesvos.
Rescuers found nine surviving immigrants on the shore and took them to the hospital for a health check, the coast guard said in a statement.
Authorities had been searching for another child in the water, but later discovered all migrants were accounted for.
The accident occurred around 8 a.m. when the small vessel smashed into rocks in the Korakas area off the northeastern coast of Lesvos. The dead were three women and five children, whose ages were not immediately known, the coast guard said. The survivors were seven men, a woman and a child.
Located only five miles (eight kilometers) from Turkey's western shore, Lesvos is one of the main points of arrival for the thousands of illegal immigrants who enter Greece every year hoping for a better life in the European Union.
Some 5,500 people were detained on the island in the first eight months of this year, compared to more than 13,000 in 2008.
Also Tuesday, the Greek coast guard found 45 illegal immigrants abandoned on an uninhabited islet off the island of Anafi in the southeastern Aegean and were transferring them to the nearby island of Santorini.
Often fleeing war zones in Asia and Africa, the migrants pay thousands of dollars to smuggling gangs for a long and perilous journey to the west.
Accidents involving rickety boats heading for Aegean Sea islands are frequent, while migrants trying to enter Greece by land from Turkey face border minefields that have claimed at least 82 lives since 1994.


Updated : 2021-06-23 04:01 GMT+08:00