At least 16 die as boat sinks off Greek island

Children’s remains recovered after suspected smuggling vessel goes down in Aegean sea

A dinghy carrying refugees in the Aegean sea. File photograph: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

A dinghy carrying refugees in the Aegean sea. File photograph: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

 

Greece’s coast guard said the bodies of 16 people have been recovered from the sea off a Greek island in the eastern Aegean following the sinking of a suspected migrant smuggling boat.

A massive search and rescue operation was under way to locate four others believed missing.

A search and rescue operation is under way to find two others believed missing. The wooden boat was believed to have been carrying around 21 people when it sank for reasons that were not immediately clear off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Agathonisi, the Greek coast guard said.

Three people – two women and one man – managed to swim to the island and alert authorities.

Three aircraft, Greek navy and coast guard vessels, a vessel from the European border agency Frontex and private boats were scouring the area to search for the missing.

Despite a two-year deal between the European Union and Turkey designed to stop the flow of migrants and refugees into Europe using the popular route from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands, dozens and sometimes hundreds of people continue to make the journey each week.

Most cross in rickety inflatable boats or other unseaworthy vessels. – AP