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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Greece Shipwreck Update: Grim Discovery of 78 Fatalities, Hunt for Missing Continues

The UN's refugee agency warns that this could be the worst maritime tragedy in Greece

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GREECE: Rescuers are searching for survivors of the overcrowded fishing boat that overturned and sank, killing at least 78 people. The UN’s refugee agency warns that this could be the worst maritime tragedy in Greece in recent years. The survivors are in poor mental health and are overwhelmed, with many concerned about their loved ones.

All 104 survivors in Kalamata were men aged 16-40, residing in a warehouse in the port. They come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Egypt. Most are exhausted and in great psychological shock.

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As per officials, some passed out while descending gangplanks. 30 people were admitted to hospitals due to pneumonia and tiredness, but none were in urgent danger. Several have been released.

A fishing boat capsized near Pylos, with up to 750 people on board. The boat was 25-30 meters long and had a deck packed with people.

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Authorities from the Greek coastguard and police are operating under the assumption that 500 individuals are missing. A police inspector expressed concern that no additional survivors had been found.

According to the police, interviews with survivors are ongoing, and EU nations follow standard protocols. They said that up to 500 people may be missing, with a hold containing women and children. The government has ordered that the election campaigning be suspended.

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Early on Thursday, a coastguard vessel sailed into nearby Kalamata, transporting victims. After an official count, authorities revised the death toll to 78 from 79.

The coastguard claimed a surveillance plane detected a boat from Frontex, but officials claimed the passengers had rejected assistance since leaving Libya. The boat’s engine failed before midnight UK time, and the passengers’ movement may have contributed to the overturn. No life jacket was worn on board.

The coastguard reports that seven people traffickers have been singled out and questioned by Greek authorities. The survivors are primarily from Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan. They will be transported to a migrant camp near Athens and will be reviewed for asylum.

The bodies of deceased migrants are being sent to a mortuary in Athens for DNA samples and face images. Health officials claim assistance will be provided by embassies of affected nations. The search effort will last until Friday morning due to deep international waters and the unlikely retrieval of the sinking Libyan fishing vessel.

In June 2016, Greece experienced the largest migrant catastrophe, with a ship near Crete sinking and 320 migrants dead or missing.

Alarm Phone, a trans-European network, reported receiving signals from passengers on a ship in trouble off the coast. Greece is a major entry point for refugees and migrants, with stricter migration policies under the conservative government.

Libya, with limited stability since 2011, serves as a primary launching point for migrants and refugees seeking Europe by sea. Networks for smuggling people are primarily managed by military groups that have authority over coastal regions.

Also Read: Deadliest Migrant Shipwreck of the Year Claims Dozens of Lives off Greece


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