Migrant crisis: At least 22 dead as two boats sink off Greece

Greek authorities say 144 people were rescued off the coast of Kalymnos and Rhodes

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says 'crocodile tears' are being shed for the dead, after twenty-two migrants drown off the Aegean Islands in three separate shipwrecks. Video: Reuters


Greece rescued 138 refugees and recovered the bodies of 19 after their boat capsized off the island of Kalymnos, the coastguard said on Friday, in the second major deadly incident this week.

The death toll from drownings at sea has mounted recently as weather in the Aegean has taken a turn for the worse, turning wind-whipped sea corridors into deadly passages for thousands of refugees crossing from Turkey to Greece.

In a second incident off the island of Rhodes, three people, including a child and an infant, drowned and three were missing. Six people were rescued at sea, the coastguard said.

About 16 people were confirmed dead and 274 people were rescued when a wooden boat they were on literally fell apart in rough seas off the Greek island of Lesbos late on Wednesday.

Greece has been a transit point for more than 500,000 refugees and migrants fleeing conflict in the Middle East and beyond this year, triggering bickering among European nations at odds on how to deal with one of the biggest humanitarian crises in decades.

Refugees have reported smugglers offering “discounts” of up to 50 per cent on tickets costing between €1,100 to 1,400 to make the journey on inflatable rafts in bad weather, UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Thursday.

Perceptibly sturdier wooden boats cost more, at between €1,800 and €2,500 per passenger.