ATHENS, GREECE — A small boat off the coast of the island of Folegandros has sunk, killing one immigrant and leaving dozens missing, according to Greece’s coast guard.
During a search and rescue operation launched early Wednesday after the boat sank about 180 kilometers (112 miles) southeast of Athens, the body of the unidentified man was recovered. It was reported that 12 people, all suspected to be from Iraq, were rescued and brought to the nearby island of Santorini.
According to most survivors, the boat was carrying 32 people, but one told authorities there were actually around 50 on board.
Search and rescue operations were being conducted by four coast guard vessels, two helicopters from the navy and the air force, a military transport plane, five passing ships, and three private vessels.
“The survivors made it onto a dinghy that was tethered to the boat. Only two of them were wearing life jackets,” Coast Guard spokesman Nikos Kokkalas told state-run ERT television.
“We always presume the worst-case scenario, in this case, that 50 people were on the boat.”
The operation began Tuesday night after the coast guard received information that a vessel carrying migrants had suffered engine problems and began taking on water south of Folegandros.
The journey to the European Union (EU) is not an easy one
Migrants have been risking everything they have in order to create a better future for themselves and their families. The people fleeing war and poverty in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa are often faced with hunger, thirst, cold, violence, and death along the way.
Dinghies are commonly used by travelers to cross from the Turkish shore to the nearby Greek islands in the eastern Aegean.
Migrants are people who make the difficult decision to leave their home country in search of better opportunities elsewhere. The term typically refers to people who move from low-income countries or poorer areas in high-income countries like Greece to more prosperous regions or wealthier areas within their own country.
Most migrants live in impoverished conditions with little or no prospects for employment or education that might lead them out of poverty.
People migrate not only to look for work – but also because they want a better quality of life for their children.
Many have been attempting longer routes on larger vessels due to increased patrols and reports of deportations to Turkey. Among the southern islands of the Cyclades is Folegandros, which is not typically used by migrants’ smugglers.
Several vessels have bypassed the Greek islands and headed directly to Italy from the Turkish coast.
Migrants are faced with many different dangers around Christmas time – around 25% of them die while making their journey to Greece or trying to get on boats headed for Europe