Mi­grant search goes on

Lesvos coast guard seeks 34 af­ter at least nine die in large wreck, mostly chil­dren

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Hel­lenic Coast Guard­ves­sels scoured the coast­line of Lesvos last night in a bid to find more than 30 mi­grants feared to be miss­ing af­ter a large boat cap­sized near the east­ern Aegean is­land on Wed­nes­day, killing at least nine peo­ple.

Fol­low­ing a huge op­er­a­tion on Wed­nes­day evening that re­sulted in the res­cue of 242 mi­grants, Greek coast guard ves­sels con­tin­ued the search with Fron­tex boats last night. A se­nior coast guard of­fi­cial on Lesvos told Kathimerini that it was un­clear ex­actly how many peo­ple were miss­ing as many of the mi­grants are said to have been trav­el­ing alone and were not be­ing sought by rel­a­tives.

Ac­cord­ing to the Ship­ping Min­istry, at least 17 mi­grants died in sev­eral in­ci­dents be­tween Wed­nes­day morn­ing and late last night, in­clud­ing 11 chil­dren. An­other 15 chil­dren were be­ing treated at the pe­di­atric clinic of Lesvos’s gen­eral hospi­tal while an­other three were flown by C130 mil­i­tary trans­port plane to the in­ten­sive­care unit of an Athens hospi­tal.

Coast guard of­fi­cers on Lesvos and other is­lands strug­gling with the mi­grant in­flux, such as Samos and Agath­on­isi, have ap­pealed for backup, Kathimerini un­der­stands. Space con­straints for the tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion of the mi­grants pose an­other prob­lem. Yes­ter­day a small church near the port of Molyvos on Lesvos was used to shel­ter mi­grants, in­clud­ing chil­dren, some with symp­toms of hy­pother­mia or fever.

As the in­flux of mi­grants into Greece con­tin­ues un­abated, de­spite the wors­en­ing weather, some have called for a fence on the Greek-Turk­ish land bor­der to be brought down to ease the wave of mi­grants ar­riv­ing by sea, a pro­posal that has been re­jected by the gov­ern­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures of the Cit­i­zens’ Pro­tec­tion Min­istry, more than 545,000 mi­grants have en­tered Greece this year. Of th­ese, 23 per­cent are chil­dren. A to­tal of 70 deaths have been recorded and an­other 100 peo­ple are be­lieved to be miss­ing. This month alone, more than 72,000 mi­grants have ar­rived in Greece, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions refugee agency. The fig­ure is only slightly smaller than the 77,163 mi­grants who ar­rived in Greece in the whole of 2014.

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