Search under way after boat carrying dozens of migrants capsizes off Greek coast | World News


A major search and rescue operation is underway after a boat carrying dozens of migrants capsized and sank off the coast of Greece.

They were travelling from Turkey when their vessel overturned in rough weather overnight between the islands of Evia and Andros.

The coast guard said on Tuesday that nine men had been found on an uninhabited rocky islet in the Kafirea Strait between the two islands, which lie east of Athens.

The survivors, who were picked up by a coast guard patrol boat, told authorities there had been about 68 people on board the sailing boat when it went down, and that they had set off from Izmir on the Turkish coast.

Gale force winds were hampering the rescue effort, the coast guard said. The stretch of water where the boat sank is notoriously treacherous, with even light winds kicking up rough seas.

Footage of the rescue operation posted on YouTube by the Hellenic Coastguard showed a small group of people standing on rocks beneath a cliff waving for help, and other images showed waves crashing over the patrol boat during the night-time search and rescue.

One of the photos showed the survivors wrapped in emergency foil blankets sitting on the deck of the patrol boat.

Authorities were alerted by a distress call in the early hours of Tuesday from passengers saying the boat was in trouble, but they didn’t give a location.

Weather in the area was particularly rough, with gale force winds. The coast guard said a helicopter, patrol boat and two nearby ships participated in the search and rescue operation.

A separate operation has been going on since Monday off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Samos for eight people reported missing after an inflatable dinghy carrying migrants overturned.

Four survivors were rescued on Monday. A coast guard aircraft and patrol boat, two nearby ships and a vessel from the European border patrol agency Frontex have been participating in the search.

Thousands of people fleeing Africa, Asia and the Middle East attempt to enter the European Union through Greece every year.

Most make the short, frequently dangerous crossing from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands in inflatable dinghies.

Others attempt to circumvent Greece in overcrowded sailboats and yachts heading straight to Italy.

Earlier this month, at least 27 people drowned in two separate incidents. In one, 18 people died when a boat that had set sail from Turkey sank off the island of Lesbos, while in the other a yacht carrying about 100 people sank in a gale, killing at least nine and leaving six missing.


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