At least three people die in accident – taking death toll from five separate incidents in eastern Aegean on Wednesday to 11
The Greek coastguard has rescued 242 people off the eastern island of Lesbos after a wooden boat capsized, leaving at least three people dead.
The search for more survivors continues as it remains unclear how many people were on the boat when it sank on Wednesday.
Greece is the main entry point for people from the Middle East and Africa trying to reach the EU. More than half a million have arrived so far this year.
The International Organisation for Migration said in a statement that some sources said there were 300 people on board.
Fishing boats and coastguard vessels ferried survivors to the port village Molyvos on Lesbos, which is a few miles from mainland Turkey. In makeshift shelters, volunteers and doctors offered assistance. Many women suffered from shock or hypothermia and received first aid in a chapel at the port.
The accident raised the total death toll from five separate incidents in the eastern Aegean sea on Wednesday to 11. A seven-year-old boy died off Lesbos in one incident, while a 12-month-old girl was in critical condition in hospital from the same boat accident.
Another three children and a man died off the coast of Samos, while one woman and two children drowned off the islet of Agathonisi.
Greece’s merchant marine minister, Thodoros Dritsas, expressed sorrow about the deaths and called for more coherent European Union policies to stop refugees risking their lives by paying people smugglers to ferry them to Greece in unseaworthy craft.
“The coastguard’s admirable, constant struggle to rescue refugees at sea is, unfortunately, tending of late to turn into a constant and agonising operation to locate and recover drowned refugees,” he said.
“Europe’s priority should be to safely relocate refugees from their countries of origin and transit to European Union members.
“Safe passage, EU entry visas on humanitarian grounds, and permits to join family members, study and receive health treatment are solutions that we should all look into very seriously.”