According to the Greek authorities, at least 59 people died in a serious boat accident in the Mediterranean on Wednesday. According to the authorities, a boat "with hundreds" of refugees on board capsized in international waters about 47 nautical miles from the coast of the Peloponnese peninsula. According to the Coast Guard, more than a hundred people were rescued. However, it is feared that the number of dead is much higher. The rescued are said to have stated that there could have been up to 400 people on board.
According to the authorities, a large-scale search operation is ongoing. Coast Guard patrol boats, the Luftwaffe, a Navy frigate, six freighters and other vessels are deployed in the area. Greek President Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou flew to the Peloponnese peninsula at noon to get an idea of the situation. Four hospitals are on alert to treat the injured among those rescued.
On Tuesday, Italian authorities informed their Greek neighbors about a fully manned fishing boat in the Greek search and rescue area, according to a coast guard statement. A Frontex aircraft then located the boat 47 nautical miles southwest of the Peloponnese peninsula. Both the Greek Coast Guard and passing freighters had repeatedly offered the passengers help over the radio, but this was refused.
In the early hours of the morning, the boat then capsized and finally sank, it said. According to survivors, it had set sail from Tobruk in Libya and was en route to Italy. At first nothing was known about the nationalities of the people.
During the long journeys from Turkey or North Africa, there are always accidents because the boats are often old and unseaworthy. Also, there is usually no boatman on board who is trained for the dangerous journey. According to the UN, at least 326 people died in the region last year. However, the Coast Guard assumes that the number of unreported cases is higher.