At least 25 lost trying to cross Evros

At least 25 people drowned in the Evros River earlier this week in their effort to cross over from Turkey to Greece, police said yesterday. Their identities were not known but the bodies of 21 men and two women recovered by last night appeared to be aged around 25 to 30 and some were carrying Pakistani papers, officials said. Rescue workers could see two more bodies in the reeds on the Turkish side of the river which forms the border between the two countries. Coroner Pavlos Pavlidis said that it appeared they had died four days earlier and that their death was caused by drowning. The fact that the victims were wearing clothes suggests they were in a boat that capsized and not trying to swim across the river. The bodies were found in the Petalou region of the village of Peplo near Ferres, a town 29 kilometers (18 miles) from the Aegean port of Alexandroupolis. This was the worst incident in recent years, after the presumed death of some 50 people who were lost when a freighter packed with migrants broke up off the Turkish coast on Jan. 1, 2001. Scores have been lost trying to cross from Turkey to Greece’s Aegean Islands and many have been killed by land mines along the Evros River. But there have never been reports of so many deaths at one time in the Evros region. The first bodies were spotted by a military patrol on Tuesday and eight were recovered, with police and army officials saying they had seen another four and would pick them up at daybreak. But the extent of the tragedy became known yesterday morning, when more bodies were found trapped in the wires mooring a floating pumping station, the Athens News Agency reported. Officials said the migrants may have drowned upriver and floated down to the bend where they were trapped in wire and roots. Four days earlier, the body of a woman was found further upriver, suggesting she may have been part of the group. Police said the river might have carried more bodies out to sea. In southwestern Greece, coast guards stopped a tour boat, the Georgina, off Kyparissia. Twenty Palestinian migrants and two Greeks, Dionysis Maroulis, 63, and Apostolos Skarlatos, 54, were held.

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