Greece: 7 migrants die in boat sinking, 8 rescued

AP News
Posted: Mar 18, 2014 4:45 AM

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Authorities in Greece said Tuesday they had recovered the bodies of seven immigrants, including two children, who drowned overnight when a boat sank in the eastern Aegean Sea after traveling illegally from nearby Turkey.

The Merchant Marine Ministry said eight other people were rescued near the island of Lesvos. Two of the dead were found in the water off the coast of the island, while the other five were recovered from their semi-sunken boat.

Authorities were still searching for two more migrants believed missing from the boat. Three coast guard vessels, a helicopter and private boats were involved in the search.

The migrants' nationalities were not immediately known.

The ministry said the boat sank in good weather about 1.5 miles (2.4 kms) off Lesvos, which is very close to the Turkish coast. The alarm was raised by a small Turkish boat that picked up two survivors in the dark.

Greece is a major transit point for illegal immigration from Asia and Africa into the European Union. Many make the journey to Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast in small boats that are often overloaded and unseaworthy. In January, 12 immigrants drowned when a boat overturned near the eastern Greek island of Farmakonissi