In the heavily travelled Aegean route of irregular migrants seeking passage to Europe, at least five irregular migrants were killed while dozens of others were rescued in two shipwrecks off Greek islands, as reported by the Greek Coast Guard on Monday.
In the first incident in the early hours off the eastern Aegean island of Samos, a coast guard vessel spotted a dinghy carrying 37 migrants, the coast guard said, adding that the migrants jumped overboard after seeing the vessel.
Of the migrants taken out of the water, one woman and a boy were found unconscious, said the coast guard, and only the boy responded to emergency medical procedures.
The other incident took place in the waters near the town of Mandamados on the island of Lesbos or Mililli. There Greek Coast Guard vessels rescued at least 18 irregular migrants and retrieved from the sea four who died, including a boy and three girls, according to Shipping and Island Policy Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, who blamed human smuggler networks for the migrants’ deaths.
The Aegean has been a key route for irregular migrants wanting to cross into Europe to start new lives, including those fleeing war and persecution.