The coastguard reported on Thursday that two migrant boats in Greece were sunk by heavy winds, killing at least 17 people and leaving close to 30 people missing. Some survivors were miraculously carried to safety by crane.
High gusts caused a dinghy carrying about 40 people to sink east of Lesbos, a coastguard spokesman informed state television ERT. He added that the passengers appear to be of African descent.
The coastguard reported that thus far, the region has yielded the dead of 16 women and a young boy.
A sailboat in trouble was reported to the coastguard a few hours earlier close to the island of Kythira, south of the Peloponnese peninsula. Around 95 persons were reportedly aboard the sailboat when it ran aground and sank close to the island town of Diakofti.
Some of the survivors made it to land, and via an operation including seagoing vessels, land-based law enforcement, and fire departments, 80 asylum seekers from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan were found.
Dramatic images from the coast guard showed some of the survivors being rope-hauled up the sheer face of a massive cliff, some of whom were barely able to hang on.
A construction crane, according to Kythira mayor Stratos Harhalakis, was also employed in the “titanic” rescue mission.
A second sinking south of the Peloponnese peninsula, close to the island of Kythira, has not yet been given an official death toll, but Harhalakis claimed to have spotted five dead.
Worst Location to Crash
According to Harhalakis, “This was the worst possible location on the island to crash.” Nobody could approach them by boat because it was so challenging.
In the Lesbos incident, the coastguard reported that ten other ladies had been saved, while more than a dozen people were reportedly still missing.
The survivors were “utterly scared,” and it was impossible to extract more information from them, according to Kokkalas.
Seven women and 18 children are among the survivors in Kythira, a coastguard spokeswoman told AFP.
Their sailboat had been “totally ruined,” according to Kokkalas.
Weather conditions were bad for both operations. The coastguard reported winds of up to 102 kilometres per hour (63 miles per hour) in the Kythira area.
EU must intervene
Greece accuses Turkey of failing to uphold a 2016 agreement with the EU to prevent migrants from sailing on to Europe, citing increased migration traffic this year.
Following the two events, Greece’s minister of migration, Notis Mitarachi, tweeted on Thursday that Turkey should “take prompt action to prohibit all irregular departures due to adverse weather circumstances.”
“Many lives have already been lost in the Aegean today due to people drowning in boats that are not seaworthy. EU must act, according to Mitarachi.
In comparison to the first eight months of previous year, the coastguard reported saving almost 1,500 persons, an increase from fewer than 600.
In order to avoid Aegean Sea patrols and travel to Italy, officials observe that smugglers now frequently choose the lengthier and riskier path via the south of the nation, leaving from Lebanon rather than Turkey.
At least 30 individuals died in three different migrant boat sinkings in the Aegean in December. Due to the fact that some victims are never found or arrive at shore weeks later, it is very hard to determine the exact death toll.
Greece has consistently denied charges made by human rights organizations that numerous additional people have been forcibly returned to Turkey without being given the chance to request asylum.
Another group of more than 50 migrants over the weekend whose sailing boat encountered trouble in the Ionian Sea refused Greek assistance for a whole day before being compelled to accept it by worsening weather.
Greek “oppressive actions” toward refugees, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are turning the Aegean into a “graveyard.”
In response, Turkey is “violently pushing forward migrants to Greece, in breach of international law,” according to Greece’s Mitarachi this week.