Migrant boat sinks off Greek island


At least twelve people drowned when their boat sank off a western Greece island, Greek authorities said, marking the deadliest toll in months in Greece’s migrant crisis.

Twenty-one people were rescued, the coast guard said.

Helicopters and ships were searching the area south-west of Paxos for survivors. Authorities had accounts of up to 50 people on the vessel.

Greek authorities scrambled to the area after receiving a distress signal from the boat which was taking in water. No further details were immediately available.

Greek authorities regularly detect migrant boats heading to Greece from Turkey, to its east. Sea disasters off its western coast, facing Italy, are less common.

Greece was at the frontline of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015 and 2016, when more than a million people reached the country, fleeing war in the Middle East and beyond. Its camps and reception centres on outlying islands facing Turkey are overcrowded.

Almost 74 500 migrants and refugees made their way to Greece in 2019, most by sea, according to the UNHCR.