Friday 24 May 2019

Fifteen babies and children die as boat sinks off Greek coast

The refugees are helped by locals and volunteers as they reach the shore
The refugees are helped by locals and volunteers as they reach the shore
Syrian and Afghan refugees fall into the sea after their dinghy deflated some 100m away before reaching the Greek island of Lesbos

Michele Kambas Athens

Thirty-four refugees, almost half of them babies and children, drowned when their boat sank off a Greek island, almost certainly the biggest death toll in those waters since the migrant crisis began.

Four babies, six boys and five girls died when the wooden vessel carrying them overturned yesterday morning about 5km east of the island of Farmakonisi, close to Turkey's coast.

Tens of thousands of mainly Syrian refugees have braved rough seas this year to make the precarious journey from Turkey to Greece's islands, mainly in overcrowded dinghies.

The coastguard said 68 people were rescued from the water and another 30 from the same boat were found on Farmakonisi.

On Lesbos, an island that has borne the brunt of Greece's migrant intake, witnesses saw 10 dinghies arriving within 90 minutes yesterday.

One inflatable carrying about 70 refugees, including many children, burst about 100 metres from the shore.

Locals pulled infants and toddlers, including a two-month-old baby cradled by his father, ashore on rubber rings.

Irish Independent

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