At least 12 people died Saturday when a boat loaded with asylum-seekers sank in the Ionian Sea, the Greek coastguard said.
“So far 12 bodies have been recovered. The search and rescue operation continues,” they said in a statement, adding that they had rescued more than 20 survivors.
“Three of them are being flown by helicopter to (the nearest hospital) for emergency treatment,” the statement added.
There were no immediate details on the identity of those on board. The boat, which was carrying around 50 people, took on water near the island of Paxi during an apparent attempt to reach Italy.
At this point someone on board issued a distress call, the authorities said. Six coastguard patrol boats and three helicopters were engaged in the continuing rescue effort, authorities said.
Four passing cargo ships were also assisting the operation, the coastguard said. Thousands of migrants and refugees have died in recent years while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in small, overloaded boats.
With Greece’s northern borders closed to migrants seeking to reach western Europe, some are trying clandestine routes to quit the country, such as mountain routes into Albania or by sailing to neighbouring Italy.Twenty-two people have died or are still missing in migrant boat sinkings in the Mediterranean just this month, according to the International Organization for Migration.—APP