Six immigrants die off Lesvos

The drowned bodies of six Afghan illegal immigrants, including three young girls, were recovered from the sea off Lesvos yesterday morning. Police believe the six, all of whom were wearing life vests, had been aboard one of the dozens of Turkish migrant-smuggling boats that ply the narrows separating the eastern Aegean islands from the Turkish mainland. Either the vessel sank in stormy weather – possibly over the weekend when strong winds were blowing off Lesvos – or the migrants were thrown into the sea by smugglers trying to avoid a Greek patrol boat. The bodies of two women, one man and three girls aged 5-10 were found floating off the island’s northern coast. Afghan money was found in the adults’ pockets. «Whether they are wearing life vests or not, many illegal immigrants risk drowning because they cannot swim or, even worse, they have never seen the sea before in their lives,» a coast guard officer said. «The problem will only be solved if the Turkish authorities decide to stop smuggling gangs. But that is unlikely, as many Turkish officials are in the gangs’ pay.»