Dozens of migrants drown as boat capsizes in Aegean Sea
The Greek Coast Guard recovered the bodies of 34 migrants, including 15 children, on Sunday in the Aegean Sea after their wooden boat flipped over in strong winds as it attempted the short but often perilous crossing from nearby Turkey.
Sixty-eight others were rescued, and 30 more swam ashore to the small Greek island of Farmakonisi in the eastern Aegean, according to an official at the Greek Shipping Ministry. “It was really windy in the morning,” the official said, describing near-gale conditions.
Rescuers, who were alerted shortly before dawn by a resident of Farmakonisi, found most of the bodies floating near the wreck, but divers recovered seven from the cabin of the boat. Of the 15 children found dead, four were infants, the official said. The victims' nationalities were not immediately known.
After nightfall, Coast Guard vessels continued to scour the area for survivors. Rescuers were also searching for four children who had been missing since Saturday after their boat capsized off the island of Samos, north of Farmakonisi.
Sunday's wreck was the latest in a catalog of drownings that underscored the desperation of thousands of refugees fleeing war and of migrants seeking better lives in Western Europe. For most of those who make it, Greece is just a stop on a journey through the Balkans aimed at wealthy nations like Germany and Scandinavian countries like Sweden known for generous welfare programs.
Greece has long been a favored entry point, along with Italy and Malta. But the influx into Greece increased drastically this year, partly because of continuing strife in Syria and other parts of the Middle East. In the first eight months of the year, 230,000 people were intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard, compared with 17,500 in the same period last year, according to the shipping minister, Nikos Zois. Last week, Greece asked for emergency funding from the European Union to improve its response to the migration crisis and to set up additional reception facilities.
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