Twelve drown as migrant boat capsizes off Greek island

Divers searching for more migrant bodies in Ionian Sea near Lefkada

Twelve illegal immigrants, including at least four children, drowned after their boat capsized just off the Greek island of Lefkada (A on map) in the Ionian Sea today. Image: Google Maps.

Twelve illegal immigrants, including at least four children, drowned after their boat capsized just off the Greek island of Lefkada (A on map) in the Ionian Sea today. Image: Google Maps.

Fri, Nov 15, 2013, 08:26

Twelve illegal immigrants, including at least four children, drowned after their boat capsized just off the Greek island of Lefkada in the Ionian Sea today.

Greece is a major gateway for immigrants trying to make their way illegally from Africa and the Middle East into the European Union.

“The immigrants called police on their mobile to say their boat was in distress,” a coastguard official said. “When we arrived we found fifteen people on the shore and picked up eight bodies, including four children.”

The death toll was later revised upwards to 12 by the marine ministry.

The immigrants said there were more people on their six-metre long boat and a diver was looking for them.

The official could not immediately say how old the dead children were, how many more people were missing or what their nationality was.

The survivors were being taken to a hospital on the island for observation.

Hundreds of Eritreans and Somalis drowned earlier this month when a boat sank less than 1km from Lampedusa, a tiny island between Sicily and Tunisia which has become the main entry point into Europe for migrant boats.

Greece, Italy and Malta have repeatedly pressed European Union partners to do more to stop a migrant crisis, which the Maltese prime minister said was turning the Mediterranean into a “cemetery”.

Reuters