At least 18 migrants drowned and many more remained missing in the Aegean Sea on May 5 after a yacht and a dinghy carrying them towards Greek shores capsized, coastguard officials said.
Fourteen of the dead were found on board the 10-meter yacht after it was towed to shore, the coastguard said, adding that the bodies of another four people had been recovered at sea.
Thousands of migrants from Africa and the Middle East pack into often unsafe boats to get into the European Union via Greece, Italy, Malta and other coastal states.
The numbers have increased since “Arab Spring” uprisings triggered unrest across North Africa and civil war in Syria.
Two vessels carrying about 68 migrants capsized about four nautical miles off Samos in the eastern Aegean Sea, close to the Turkish coast, a coast guard official said.
“Two drowned bodies were found and 36 migrants have been rescued … About 30 are missing,” the official told Reuters.
Authorities said they did not yet know the nationality of the migrants. Two air force helicopters, assisted by two coast guard vessels, one navy warship and a cruise liner were searching for the missing, the coast guard official said.
Greece, Italy and Malta have repeatedly pressed European Union partners to do more to help them handle the large numbers of migrants.