Fifty feared drowned as migrants’ boat sinks off Greek holiday island of Karpathos

Greek authorities yesterday carried out a search and rescue operation for dozens of people missing at sea east of the island of Karpathos after a boat reportedly carrying up to 80 migrants bound for Italy sank during the night.

The Coast Guard said 29 men were rescued 61 km off Karpathos, an island between Rhodes and Crete.

Two were snatched from the waves by an Air Force helicopter and flown to Karpathos, while the other 27 were picked up by a passing tanker and taken to the island of Kos.

The survivors – Afghans, Iraqis and Iranians – said there were 60 to 80 people on the ship. No other survivors had been found as of last night, although the search continued.

Those rescued said the boat had left the coast of Antalya in southern Turkey and was on its way to Italy when they ran into trouble at night.

High winds and rough seas complicated search and rescue efforts.

The most common sea route for asylum-seekers from the Middle East, Asia and Africa was from Turkey to the Greek islands, but with increased Greek patrols in the Aegean and continuing reports of newcomers being deported to Turkey without applying for asylum, many are now attempting that far longer and more dangerous route directly to Italy.

Greece denies carrying out unlawful summary deportations of asylum seekers.

In another incident in northern Greece – a region that is a key entry point for people entering illegally by land from Turkey – a 52-year-old police officer was charged with attempted manslaughter yesterday after two members of a group of migrants fled arrest were shot and injured. Fifty feared drowned as migrants’ boat sinks off Greek holiday island of Karpathos

Fry Electronics Team

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