NEWS

Three missing after migrant dinghy sinks off Lesvos

three-missing-after-migrant-dinghy-sinks-off-lesvos

A search and rescue operation is underway to locate three people who went missing after a rubber dinghy carrying migrants apparently sank along the maritime border between Lesvos and the Turkish coast, authorities said.

Ten people have been rescued in the operation, which involves Coast Guard and Frontex vessels, a Super Puma helicopter and aircraft, as well as a vessel that had been sailing nearby.

According to the Coast Guard, the Turkish authorities have also been informed.

The Coast Guard said the dinghy appeared to have sunk inside Turkish territorial waters, with initially one survivor swimming into Greek territorial waters and being picked up by Greek authorities. Another nine people were then also rescued, they said.

Survivors told authorities there had been a total of 13 people on the dinghy when it sank. Their nationalities weren’t immediately available.

Speaking in parliament, Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said Turkey failed to rescue the passengers “as it should have done inside Turkish territorial waters and the Greek coast guard, which puts the protection of human life above all, was forced to enter Turkish territorial waters, rescuing 10 people.”

He stressed that Greece was protecting its borders and that entries by migrants heading from the Turkish coast to the Greek islands were 96% lower in the last 12 months compared with the previous 12-month period.

“The government’s policy is clear. We do not want to be the gateway for smuggling networks into the European Union,” Mitarachi said. “We have denied hundreds of millions of euros from the smugglers of human pain, who operate to the east of our country. Our country has land and sea borders.”

[ANA-MPA, AP]