ATHENS, Greece – At least 11 people, most of them children, died Thursday in the latest migrant boat sinking off an eastern Greek island, while an undetermined number of people were missing, the Greek coast guard said.
Coast guard vessels and boats from the European border patrol agency Frontex were carrying out a search and rescue operation off the island of Samos. Ten people were rescued, while the bodies of four boys, three girls, three men and one woman were recovered.
The coast guard said five of the rescued were found clinging to a piece of floating wood, leading authorities to believe they had been in a wooden vessel that sank. The survivors were in shock and unable to provide clear accounts of what happened or how many people had been on board.
Another boat sank off the island of Kos on Wednesday, leaving seven dead, including two children. Only two people were rescued from that incident.
Greece, with thousands of kilometers of coastline and islands very near the Turkish coast, is the main gateway into Europe for refugees and migrants. Hundreds have died attempting to make the short but dangerous crossing in unseaworthy, overcrowded vessels.
Some European countries have accused Greece of not doing enough to stem the flow of people. Athens retorts that it is both illegal and dangerous to attempt to turn back potential asylum-seekers at sea, and trying to do so would inevitably lead to yet more deaths. It also says it has asked for more help from other EU countries in the form of staff and equipment from Frontex, but has received far less than it needs.