Child migrants die from cold after boat sinks

Child migrants die from cold after boat sinks

The deaths of four children collected on Sunday morning from the sea off the southeastern Aegean island of Leros have been attributed to hypothermia, coast guard sources said on Monday.

The three Congolese children, aged 1, 2 and 4, and an infant from Nigeria were rushed by rescuers in critical condition to the island’s hospital, where they died a few hours later. 

They, along with their parents, were on board an inflatable boat that had left the coast of Turkey on Saturday night and capsized in the Panteli sea area off the southeastern side of the island. The body of a dead African woman was also recovered, but had not been identified by late Monday. 

Moreover, from the statements of the rescuers, it appears that apart from the total of five confirmed dead, three more people, a woman and two more children, were still missing. 

Two foreign nationals, from Afghanistan and Congo, are expected to be prosecuted as traffickers after they were identified in the statements of those rescued as the ones who navigated the boat from the Turkish coast to Leros.

The group of 46 migrants testified that they had started their journey from the Izmir area on the Turkish coast hidden in a truck, with each having paid between 700 and 1,000 euros to the smuggling ring. They were unable to indicate the exact point of departure, but they did testify that their journey from Izmir to the point of departure took approximately two hours. 

Coast guard officials believe that the most likely point of departure for the migrants was the town of Didim, located opposite Patmos and Leros.

They traveled during the night and in very bad weather conditions before managing at dawn to reach the southeast coast of the island. However, as it is a steep, rocky area, they approached the coast but were unable to dock. The inflatable boat broke and the migrants found themselves in the water.

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