Tragedy struck on Sunday when a boat carrying at least 41 migrants sank off the coast of Greece, 6 of whom were children.
Authorities were alerted to the sinking after a woman’s body was reported being sighted floating in the Aegean Sea. Three vessels, a helicopter, and a few private civilian vessels reached the point and retrieved the woman’s body, as well as several other capsized migrants. In total, 40 people were rescued, including 17 men, 17 women, and 6 children, one of which was unconscious. Three of the children later died in the hospital bringing the total death toll to four.
Most migrants were of African descent and were sent off from the Turkish coast, a common trend for human traffickers which many Greek authorities claim to have the blessing of local Turkish authorities. A half submerged inflatable boat was also found, authorities theorize the migrants were sent in “unfavorable conditions” including gale force winds and “continuous heavy rain.”
Shipping and Island Policy Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis commended both the Greek Coast Guard and civilian actors in a statement, saying “Officials of the Coast Guard – Hellenic Coast Guard, once again proved that their primary concern is the protection of human life in rescuing, under particularly adverse weather conditions, 41 of our fellow human beings.”
“Unfortunately we have, for yet another time, innocent victims who lost their lives because of the criminal stance of human traffickers.” Plakiotakis claims the migrants “start off from Turkey, under the tolerance of Turkish authorities.”
This is an unfortunately common occurrence as, on Tuesday, another migrant ship carrying dozens of migrants sank off the coast of Lesvos, Greece. 16 have been rescued while 3 have been pronounced dead. Several more occurrences have happened with the last few months, leading to the death of dozens more.
Greece, Spain, and Italy are some of the most common entry points into the EU for migrants and refugees, with many migrants entering Greece from neighboring Turkey. Greek officials have continuously urged the Turkish government to make efforts to prevent migrant boats from leaving the coast during harsh weather conditions, but so far, the migrant crossings remain dangerous.