Two migrants were found dead and 11 rescued late on Thursday after the boat they were sailing in from Turkey sank off Samos in the eastern Aegea. Another 22 were thought to be missing.
Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis expressed “deep regret” at the loss of the immigrants’ lives as coast guard patrol boats and Super Puma helicopters continued searching the sea for survivors.
The rescued irregular migrants told coast guard officers that another 22 people apart from the two who drowned had been with them in the rubber dinghy that sank.
“The frequent rescues and loss of life at sea confirms the fears that have been expressed by the Merchant Marine Ministry within Greece and abroad regarding the increase in such incidents, which make it urgent that immigration policy within Europe be reviewed,” said Varvitsiotis.
The dinghy sank some 10 nautical miles off Samos at around lunchtime.
Also on Thursday, police arrested three Greeks and three foreigners in Athens and Dilesi, north of the capital, on suspicion of being part of a human-trafficking ring. The suspects are alleged to have smuggled migrants from Greece to Italy by boat.
However, the gang is also alleged to have kidnapped two Pakistani migrants to extort money from their relatives. It is believed that one of the migrants died as a result of the injuries he suffered when he was kidnapped.
Apart from human trafficking, the suspects also face charges of kidnapping, robbery, fatal bodily harm and illegal possession of firearms.