A new tragedy has happened in the Mediterranean, as at least 79 migrants have drowned, more than 100 have been rescued and many more feared dead after their fishing vessel sank about 50 miles (80 km) south-west of Pylos, in southern Greece, the Greek public TV station ERT reported.
The International Organization of Migration (IOM), said on Twitter that initial reports suggest that up to 400 people were onboard the fishing vessel.
The survivors have been taken to the town of Kalamata for hospital treatment, while the President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, has also been in Kalamata to be informed about the tragedy.
According to ertnews.gr, the fishing vessel had possibly sailed from the coast of Tobruk in Libya heading for Italy.
The Greek coast guard said that the boat was spotted in international waters by an aircraft belonging to European Union’s border agency Frontex. A few hours after its spotting, the boat capsized and sank, triggering a search and rescue operation, which was then complicated by strong winds.
Two Hellenic Coast Guard Patrol Boats, one Hellenic Coast Guard Lifeboat, one Hellenic Navy Frigate and seven ships are operating at the site, as well as one Hellenic Navy helicopter and one Frontex unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
A helicopter of the Greek war navy and a UAV of EU border agency Frontex are also searching for survivors in the shipwreck area.
The Hellenic Coast Guard reported earlier today that “Regarding the extensive search and rescue operation for foreigners that is underway, in international waters in the sea area 47 n.m. southwest of Pylos, under the coordination of the Hellenic Coast Guard-Hellenic Coast Guard Joint Coordination Center for Search and Rescue, it is known that so far one hundred people have been rescued, who are transferred by ship to Kalamata, where their reception has been organized in cooperation with the General Secretariat for Civil Protection.”
It was added that “four people have been transferred by Super Puma helicopter of the Hellenic Air Force to Kalamata, where they were picked up by two ambulances of EKAV and transferred to the General Hospital of Kalamata. It should be noted that at the time of their detection, none of the rescued were wearing life-saving equipment (life jacket). So far, seventeen bodies have been located and collected from extensive investigations.”
It’s worth noting that Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union for refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
‼️ A shipwreck occurred today off Pylos, Greece according to @HCoastGuard.— IOM – UN Migration 🇺🇳 (@UNmigration) June 14, 2023
So far 104 survivors were brought to shore while 32 bodies were recovered. Search and rescue efforts continue and we fear more lives were lost.
Initial reports suggest up to 400 people were onboard. pic.twitter.com/7TBTWiHs84