At least 17 migrants have died off the coast of Pylos, Greece, in international waters after the boat they were on – believed to have been carrying around 750 migrants – sank. Reliable sources within the coast guard have confirmed the distressing news to CNN Greece.
Rescue operations were able to save fourmore migrants who were found suffering from severe hypothermia. Thanks to the prompt response of a Super Puma helicopter, they were airlifted to Kalamata General Hospital for immediate medical attention.
The boat is believed to be carrying 750 people and according to Italian Rai News reporter Angela Caponnetto, hundreds are still missing.
She wrote on Twitter: “The fishing boat reported yesterday between Greece and Malta with 750 people on board has sunk off the coast of the Peloponnese. A large-scale search and rescue operation by the Greek Navy is currently underway, but it arrived too late despite the SOS calls. Only 80 people have been saved so far. Hundreds are dead or missing.”
She added: “Greek authorities have not yet communicated the number of people on board, but according to highly reliable sources, we unfortunately believe it is that very same vessel.
“They had been asking for help for hours: there were 6 deceased on board, and strong winds prevented them from proceeding beyond Greece.
“The fishing boat was wrecked 80nm south of the beautiful island of Zakynthos in the general indifference of a part of Europe that does not rescue the overloaded boats but makes them cross the Ionian towards Italy. Even if over 700 risk dying before their eyes.”
A total of 100 people were successfully rescued and are reported to be in good health, according to PA. They are expected to arrive at the port of Kalamata around 11.30am to 12pm.
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The Greek authorities were alerted to the situation when the Single Coordination Center for Search and Rescue received information from RCC ROME regarding a fishing vessel carrying a significant number of foreigners.
The sequence of events leading to the shipwreck began when a FRONTEX aerial vehicle initially spotted the fishing vessel at noon on Tuesday (June 13). Two passing ships sailed north without requesting assistance or raising any alarms, leaving authorities puzzled.
Responding to the distress call, the Coastal Patrol boat LS-EL.AKT set off for the reported location, accompanied by a L.S.-EL.AKT helicopter for aerial support. The helicopter confirmed the fishing vessel’s rapid northward movement, raising concerns about the safety of those on board.
Despite the best efforts to offer assistance, communication with the fishing vessel proved difficult. However, another ship managed to provide provisions to the migrants, who declined further aid and expressed their determination to continue their journey to Italy.
Tragically, in the early hours of today, the fishing boat capsized and sank.
A comprehensive search and rescue operation was immediately launched, involving the Coastal Patrol vessel LS-EL.AKT, three passing ships, and an Air Force C-130 plane.
The Patrol Vessel LS-EL.AKT and a Lifeguard Vessel LS-EL.AKT joined the mission to locate any survivors and provide support.
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