4 children dead, as migrant boats sink near Turkish coast

Greek authorities said four children died and dozens rescued on Monday in two separate incidents involving migrant boats heading to Greek islands from nearby Turkish shores.

The survivors were taken to Lesbos’ main port of Mytilene, where two people were transferred to a local hospital.

Government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis said all four children included an 8-year-old boy and three girls aged 14, 8 and 11 months.

We express our deepest sadness for the five deaths,” Marinakis said at a regular briefing. He praised the coast guard for superhuman efforts to rescue lives at sea. β€œIt is imperative that the dismal smuggling networks that exploit vulnerable people are struck at their roots,” he said.

Greece’s minister for merchant marine, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, said a coast guard carried out the rescue inside Turkish waters.

Coast Guard spokesperson Nikos Alexiou however said the Turkish Coast Guard did not conduct a rescue operation, as a Greek patrol boat recovered the passengers.

Over the weekend, the coast guard said it picked up dozens of people from boats near islands in the eastern Aegean Sea, part of an increase in new arrivals over the past two months.

According to United Nations figures, more than 14,000 people have reached Greece by land and sea so far this year, which isabout a tenth of the total successful Mediterranean crossings, most of which about 104,000 were to Italy. Arrivals in Greece for the whole of 2022 totalled 19,000.

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