More than 20 migrants or refugees were rescued and one child died Thursday on a Greek island after the boat they sailed from the Turkish coast overnight either capsized or sank, Greek authorities said.
Greece’s coast guard said a vessel from the European border agency Frontex initially picked up six people it spotted in the sea off the small southeastern island of Kastellorizo. One of the six, a 9-year-old girl, was taken to a hospital on the island but later died, the coast guard said.
Greek authorities launched a search and rescue operation with patrol boats and a helicopter, and crews later found and rescued another 20 people who had managed to swim to a rocky coast on the island.
It was unclear what type of vessel the migrants had used and whether it sank or capsized. The coast guard said it appeared all those on board had been accounted for, but they were continuing the search and rescue operation as a precaution.
Greece was the preferred route for refugees and migrants fleeing war and poverty in their homelands to seek access into the European Union until last year, when an EU-Turkey deal drastically reduced the number of people heading to Greek islands from the Turkish coast.
Despite the deal and the overcrowded conditions in the camps on the Greek islands, hundreds still make the journey every week, using often unseaworthy and overcrowded inflatable dinghies or small wooden boats.