At least 16 people died when a migrant boat sank in the Aegean, the Greek coast guard said early yesterday, just hours after a similar incident claimed 11 lives.
The latest incident — the third since Wednesday — came amid high smuggler activity not seen in Greek waters in months.
The Athens News Agency reported that the coast guard on Friday found 16 bodies, including those of three women and a baby, and rescued 63 people from a boat that overturned and sank near the island of Paros.
Hours earlier, 11 bodies were recovered from a boat that ran aground on an islet north of the island of Antikythera on Thursday evening.
Ninety people stranded on the islet were rescued, the coast guard said.
On Wednesday, a dinghy carrying migrants capsized off the island of Folegandros, killing at least three people.
Thirteen people were rescued, while dozens remain missing, authorities said.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that the Folegandros incident was the worst in the Aegean Sea this year.
“This shipwreck is a painful reminder that people continue to embark on perilous voyages in search of safety,” said Adriano Silvestri, the UNHCR’s assistant representative in Greece.
On Friday, the coast guard intercepted another boat with 92 men and boys on board after it ran aground near the coast of the Peloponnese peninsula.
Three suspected smugglers who fled the boat on foot were later detained.
The UN refugee agency estimates that more than 2,500 people have died or gone missing at sea in their attempt to reach Europe from January through last month.
Nearly 1 million people, mainly Syrian refugees, arrived in the EU in 2015 after crossing to Greek islands close to Turkey.
“These days, the criminal activity of smugglers, who are indifferent to human life, has intensified, stacking dozens of distressed people, without life jackets, on boats that do not even meet the basic safety standards,” Greek Minister for Shipping and Island Policy Giannis Plakiotakis said.
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