Seven refugees die as boat collides with Greek rescue vessel
Seven asylum seekers have lost their lives as their wooden boat capsized after colliding with a Greek rescue vessel in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece.
Rescuers said on Thursday that four children were among the dead when their wooden boat sank off the Greek island of Lesbos within minutes after crashing with a 30-meter-long Greek coastguard vessel.
The first bodies retrieved were those of a woman, two young girls and a baby, the coastguard said in a statement, adding that three other victims, “a woman, a man and a minor” were later found.
Greek rescuers backed by a Portuguese ship and a helicopter belonging to Frontex, the European Union border agency, were combing the waters for the missing.
The 31 survivors on the capsized boat who were brought to safety had previously reported a total of eight people missing, authorities said.
The refugees’ nationalities were not immediately known, and the Greek border authorities said an investigation was ordered to determine the cause of the collision.
According to an initial report filed by Greece’s port police, the boat had reportedly been attempting to flee the coastguard vessel as it approached it.
On Wednesday, a woman, a young girl and a baby coming from neighboring Turkey died after their boat sank off Lesbos.
Scores of asylum seekers have died making the perilous Aegean Sea crossing from Turkey to Greece.
More than 450,000 people have arrived in Greece, most of them fleeing the war in Syria.
The International Organization for Migration says more than 600,000 asylum seekers have landed on Europe’s shores since January, while more than 3,000 have died or gone missing while trying to reach Europe.