Several Infants Among 11 Killed as Migrant Boat Sinks Off Greek Coast

The Greek coast guard said 15 people were rescued but a number of young children drowned when a 20-foot book sank near the Aegean island of Lesbos.

by VICE News
Nov 1 2015, 6:15pm

Imagen por Filip Singer/EPA

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Eleven people — including several infants — drowned off the coast of Greece on Sunday, the latest deadly incident to occur on the Mediterranean as waves of migrants and refugees attempt to reach Europe.

According to the Greek coast guard, 15 other people were rescued when their 20-foot boat sank near the Aegean island of Lesbos, trapping most of the passengers in the cabin. A search and rescue operation was still underway early Sunday morning to find two more missing passengers.

"We recovered 11 drowned bodies, 10 of which were trapped inside the vessel's cabin," a Greek coast guard official said, adding that the dead included four babies, two children, and four women.

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The incident came after another vessel carrying migrants and refugees nearly sank on Friday off the coast of Lesbos. Footage from that rescue showed volunteers helping around 150 people off a partially-flooded boat and onto the shore. According to a Human Rights Watch official, it took rescuers two hours to get everybody that was aboard to safety.

The death toll among migrants and refugees attempting to make the short but dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean to Greece's eastern islands from Turkey and Libya has risen in recent weeks as fall weather has set in, bringing high winds and falling temperatures.

Related: Europe Has a New Plan to Keep Migrants and Refugees Out of the Cold This Winter

The Lighthouse Refugee Relief team, a group that helps migrants and refugees, posted footage from the rescue on Friday that showed people jumping from a dangerously overcrowded boat into the sea as rescuers pulled up alongside. The rescue effort reportedly included fishermen and volunteers from a number of groups.

Watch the VICE News dispatch Migrants and Refugees Test Lesbos' Limits: Breaking Borders:

"Together we got everyone safely to shore," the post said. "It's now evident that the boats will keep on coming in spite of the worsening weather conditions. As we have seen the last few days, the smugglers will use larger boats than the inflatable rubber dinghies. Unfortunately these wooden and plastic boats are in a very bad condition, and more incidents like this morning… are to be expected."

Greece has been a transit point for more than 570,000 refugees and migrants fleeing conflict in the Middle East and beyond this year, putting European nations at odds over how to deal with the continent's biggest humanitarian crisis in decades.

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Reuters contributed to this report.