Refugees drown as boat capsizes off Greek island

By 10:04 Sun, 13 Sep 2015 Comments

At least 28 refugees – half of them children – have drowned after a wooden fishing boat sank off the Greek Island of Farmakonisi, the Greek coastguard has said.

Four babies and 10 young children – five boys and five girls – were among 112 people on the stricken boat when it sank off the southern Aegean island early on Sunday, the Athens News Agency reported.

The toll is thought to be the largest recorded from any single accident in Greek waters since the refugee crisis began.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from the Greek island of Lesbos, said the accident took place before dawn. The coast guard rescued another 68 refugees from the sea and another 30 made their way to the island by themselves.

Coast guard officials said the boat may have been toppled in part because of wind gusts exceeding 50kph.

“Divers have recovered a number of victims still trapped in the vessel,” our correspondent said.

“With the rate of these small boats crossing to make this perilous journey the risk of accidents is always there,” our correspondent said.

Also on Sunday, a rubber dinghy deflated about 100m off Lesbos, forcing the occupants to swim for their lives.

Sunday’s tragedy came just a day after two other boats capsized and at least five people — four children and a 20-year-old man — were presumed drowned.

Our correpondent said the coast guard had called off a search for the bodies on Sunday.

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