Greece says 22 migrants drown off Aegean islands, 144 rescued

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 30, 2015 4:48 AM

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece rescued 138 refugees and recovered the bodies of 19 after their boat capsized off the island of Kalymnos, the coastguard said on Friday, in the second major deadly incident this week.

The death toll from drownings at sea has mounted recently as weather in the Aegean has taken a turn for the worse, turning wind-whipped sea corridors into deadly passages for thousands of refugees crossing from Turkey to Greece.

In a second incident off the island of Rhodes, three people, including a child and an infant, drowned and three were missing. Six people were rescued at sea, the coastguard said.

Some 16 people were confirmed dead and 274 people were rescued when a wooden boat they were on literally fell apart in rough seas off the Greek island of Lesbos late on Wednesday.

Greece has been a transit point for more than 500,000 refugees and migrants fleeing conflict in the Middle East and beyond this year, triggering bickering among European nations at odds on how to deal with one of the biggest humanitarian crises in decades.

Refugees have reported smugglers offering 'discounts' of up to 50 percent on tickets costing between 1,100 to 1,400 euros to make the journey on inflatable rafts in bad weather, UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Thursday.

Perceptibly sturdier wooden boats cost more, at between 1,800 and 2,500 euros per passenger.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Toby Chopra)