Hellenic Coast Guard vessels scoured the coastline of Lesvos on Thursday night in a bid to find more than 30 migrants feared to be missing after a large boat capsized near the eastern Aegean island on Wednesday, killing at least nine people.
Following a huge operation on Wednesday evening that resulted in the rescue of 242 migrants, Greek coast guard vessels continued the search with Frontex boats on Thursday night.
A senior coast guard official on Lesvos told Kathimerini that it was unclear exactly how many people were missing as many of the migrants are said to have been traveling alone and were not being sought by relatives.
According to the Shipping Ministry, at least 17 migrants died in several incidents between Wednesday morning and late Thursday night, including 11 children.
Another 15 children were being treated at the pediatric clinic of Lesvos’s general hospital while another three were flown by C-130 military transport plane to the intensive-care unit of an Athens hospital.
Coast guard officers on Lesvos and other islands struggling with the migrant influx, such as Samos and Agathonisi, have appealed for backup, Kathimerini understands.
Space constraints for the temporary accommodation of the migrants pose another problem. On Thursday a small church near the port of Molyvos on Lesvos was used to shelter migrants, including children, some with symptoms of hypothermia or fever.
As the influx of migrants into Greece continues unabated, despite the worsening weather, some have called for a fence on the Greek-Turkish land border to be brought down to ease the wave of migrants arriving by sea, a proposal that has been rejected by the government.
According to official figures of the Citizens’ Protection Ministry, more than 545,000 migrants have entered Greece this year.
Of these, 23 percent are children. A total of 70 deaths have been recorded and another 100 people are believed to be missing.
This month alone, more than 72,000 migrants have arrived in Greece, according to the United Nations refugee agency. The figure is only slightly smaller than the 77,163 migrants who arrived in Greece in the whole of 2014.