Tragedy in Farmakonisi

The confirmed deaths from the latest incident involving migrants in the Aegean continued to climb and has now risen to 34, Greek authorities reported on Sunday. The tragedy unfolded early on Sunday morning after a migrant-laden wooden boat carrying at least 100 people capsized in waters east of Farmakonissi. The victims now include four infants and 11 small children, as well as 10 women and nine men.

The discovery of four women, a man and one small boy trapped in the hold of the overturned boat raised the death toll to 34 from the previous reported figure of 28. The six bodies were found by an Underwater Missions Unit that searched the hold.

The dead bodies have been collected by a Greek Navy cannon-boat and are expected to be taken to Rhodes. The survivors have been taken to Leros.

A search-and-rescue operation was mounted at dawn, when a distress call was received on the 112 emergency number. A Super-Puma helicopter has been scouring the area to search for possible survivors and boats rushed to the scene from Mytilene and rescued 68 people from the water. Another 29 successfully reached the shore unaided. The search is continuing since survivors are not able to confirm how many people were on board the capsized vessel.

According to authorities, bad weather conditions with winds up to 7 on the Beaufort scale as well as overloading were the main cause for the boat capsizing.

Shipping Minister Christos Zois, who was on the nearby island of Lesvos to attend a meeting on the migration issue, has issued orders to Coast Guard Chief Rear Admiral Athanassios Athanasopoulos and his second-in-command Nikolaos Patrinos to make their way to Farmakonissi from Mytilene using coast guard boats.