A migrant boat sank overnight in the eastern Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, leaving at least 16 people dead, including two children, Greek authorities said Monday. Two women from it were rescued and several other people are believed to be missing.
Greece's coast guard said the bodies of nine people – six women, two men and a child – had been recovered from Greek waters off the island of Lesbos, while Turkish authorities found the bodies of a further six men and a child in Turkish waters.
One of rescued women was pregnant. She told Greek authorities she had been among roughly 25 people who had set sail late Sunday night from the Turkish coast heading to Lesbos. The nationalities of those involved were not immediately available.
A search-and-rescue operation was ongoing. The alert was raised Monday morning by a Greek navy vessel that spotted bodies in the water.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants have crossed into Greece from the nearby Turkish coast, hoping to head to more prosperous European countries. But a European Union-Turkey deal reached last year – in which those arriving on Greek islands face deportation back to Turkey – has significantly reduced the number of people attempting to cross the Aegean.
Most undertake the short but dangerous journey on overloaded inflatable dinghies or occasionally sailboats. It was unclear what type of smuggling vessel was used Monday, or how it ran into trouble. [AP]