Greece boat disaster leaves at least 78 dead and hundreds missing


After their fishing boat capsized off the coast of southern Greece, at least 78 people have died and more than 100 have been saved.

However, according to survivors, the boat may have been crammed with up to 750 people, with reports of 100 children in the hold.

Greece has proclaimed three days of mourning, calling it one of its worst ever migration catastrophes.

Authorities maintain that their offers of assistance were rejected, yet they are still under fire for allegedly not doing enough.

The Greek coastguard said that the boat went down roughly 80 kilometers (50 miles) south-west of Pylos after 2:04 on Wednesday morning local time, bringing the total number of verified fatalities down from 79 to 78.

The boat was seen early on Tuesday afternoon, according to Frontex, an EU border agency, and Greek and Italian officials were notified right away. No one was wearing a life jacket on board, the coast guard later said.

According to a timetable supplied by the coastguard, the first contact with the fishing boat occurred at 14:00 (11:00 GMT), and no plea for assistance was made.

It said that the Greek shipping ministry had spoken with the boat several times and had each time been informed that it merely wished to continue sailing toward Italy. Around 18:00, a ship flying the Maltese flag delivered food and drink, and three hours later, another boat delivered water, it continued.

The boat’s engine is then believed to have malfunctioned, and at around 1:40 on Wednesday, someone on board reportedly alerted the Greek coastguard to the situation.

The boat quickly overturned and quickly sank to the bottom, taking barely 10 to fifteen minutes. Strong winds made a search and rescue effort more challenging.

The coastguard was “aware of the ship being in distress for hours before any help was sent,” according to Alarm Phone, an emergency helpline for migrants in distress at sea, and officials “had been informed by different sources” that the boat was in trouble.

It went on to say that because of the “horrible and systematic pushback practices” employed by the Greek government, people may have been afraid to interact with the government there.

According to Jérôme Tubiana of Doctors Without Borders, European and Greek authorities should have acted sooner. It’s distressing to learn that Frontex flew over the boat and that no one stepped in to aid since the boat rebuffed all assistance. A boat that is overloaded is a boat that is in trouble.

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