Five children among 22 dead as migrant boat sinks in Mediterranean

Nine survivors found on rocks on an uninhabited Greek island

Survivors wear emergency blankets after being rescued near  Evia island, Greece. EPA
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At least 22 people, including five children, have died after a boat carrying migrants sank near a Greek island, the national coastguard said on Thursday.

A search and rescue operation is continuing for another 34 people after the boat sank in treacherous waters between the islands of Evia and Andros.

The Greek coastguard said nine survivors were found on rocks on an uninhabited islet.

They told authorities they had been on a sailing boat carrying about 68 people that had set sail from Izmir on the Turkish coast before it sank in rough seas.

The initial rescue operation was conducted in gale-force winds seas in the Kafireas Strait between the two islands, an area notorious for rough seas.

The coastguard said 22 bodies had been retrieved from the sea, including five children — three boys and two girls — and six women.

The sinking was the latest in a series of recent deadly shipwrecks of boats carrying migrants through Greek seas.

A separate search and rescue operation was being conducted in the eastern Aegean off the island of Samos, which lies near the Turkish coast, for seven people still missing after a dinghy reportedly carrying 12 people capsized on Monday.

Four people, who the coastguard said were all Palestinians, were rescued on Monday and one body was recovered on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, three charity boats carrying almost 1,000 rescued migrants have urged Italian or Maltese authorities to let them dock, saying people on-board needed urgent assistance.

The Mediterranean Sea is a perilous route for people trying to get from to southern Europe. Greece, Italy and Malta are all EU members.

Thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa, Asia and the Middle East attempt to enter the EU through Greece each year.

Most make the short but often perilous crossing from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands in often unseaworthy inflatable dinghies. Others opt to attempt to circumvent Greece in overcrowded boats and yachts as they head to Italy.

At least 27 people drowned in two separate shipwrecks last month. In one, 18 people died when a boat that had set sail from Turkey sank off the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos. In the other, a yacht carrying about 100 people sank in a gale, killing at least nine and leaving six others missing.

Updated: November 03, 2022, 11:10 AM