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‘Moving Bombs:’ Two Boats Filled with Migrants Sink in Mediterranean Sea

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Authorities and local residents rescue a migrant on the Greek island of Kythira after a sailboat carrying up to 100 people sank in high winds. | Image by Ippolytos Prekas / Kythera.news

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At least 22 people died off the coast of Greece after two boats allegedly smuggling migrants sank in separate incidents on Thursday.

Both ships sank in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey.

In one instance, an overloaded dinghy carrying roughly 40 migrants capsized east of Lesbos after setting sail from Turkey overnight.

Greek authorities have recovered at least 17 bodies, 16 of which were said to be African women. About 10 individuals survived the sinking, and another dozen remain missing.

Hundreds of miles away, off the shores of Kythira, a sailboat crashed into some rocks and sank. At least five people have been reported dead thus far.

Greek authorities claimed that roughly 80 Afghan, Iraqi, and Iranian migrants were recovered, but as many as 10 or more are still missing.

Eustratios Harhalakis, the mayor of Kythira, stated, “The boats that are being sent from Turkey are moving bombs … They are small sailboats that shouldn’t have more than 15 or 20 persons onboard, and they have 100.”

Thousands of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees die every year attempting to enter Europe by crossing the Mediterranean, according to UN News.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the prime minister of Greece, expressed “deep sorrow for the tragic loss of life.”

Greek shipping minister Yannis Plakiotakis stated, “As long as the Turkish coastguard does not prevent their activities, the traffickers cram unfortunate people, without safety measures, into boats that cannot withstand the weather conditions, putting their lives in mortal danger.”

Greece and Turkey have been at odds over migrant crossings for years, blaming each other for the deaths that occur.

For its part, Turkish officials have repeatedly accused Greek authorities of inhumanely pushing arriving migrants and asylum seekers back into the sea, a phenomenon that has grown more frequent fueled by higher crime rates across Europe, often paired with the increased number of migrants.   

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