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17 dead after migrant boat capsizes off Greek coast

The accident occurred in international waters of the Ionian Sea and an extensive rescue operation was launched due to strong winds.

At least 17 people have died and 100 have been rescued after a fishing boat carrying migrants and refugees capsized off the southern coast of Greece.

The Greek coastguard said 17 people died after their ship sank off the Peloponnese coast early Wednesday morning. The accident occurred in international waters in the Ionian Sea and an extensive rescue operation was launched due to strong winds, the coastguard said earlier.

Four of the survivors were hospitalized with symptoms of hypothermia.

Six coast guard ships, a navy frigate, a military transport and an air force helicopter, as well as several private vessels are taking part in the search for the missing.

The Italy-bound boat is believed to have sailed from the Tobruk area in eastern Libya.

Greek authorities and the European Union’s border protection agency Frontex were first alerted to the approaching vessel by the Italian coast guard on Tuesday.

On Sunday, 90 migrants and refugees aboard a US-flagged yacht were rescued in the area after a distress call was made.

Separately on Wednesday, a yacht with more than 70 people on board was towed to a port on the southern coast of the island of Crete after authorities received a distress call.

Rescue operations are routine, but last month the Greek government came under international pressure over video footage that appeared to show the forced expulsion of migrants and refugees who had been swept out to sea.

Last year, nearly 3,800 people died on migration routes to and from the Middle East and North Africa, the highest number recorded there since 2017, according to data released Tuesday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project recorded 3,789 deaths by sea and land in the region in 2022, including crossings of the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea.

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