ATHENS: Greece’s coast guard says a broad search and rescue operation has been launched after a boat carrying migrants ran into trouble and sank south of the Cycladic island of Folegandros, leaving dozens potentially missing.
The coast guard said on Wednesday, December 22, 2021, that 12 people had been rescued, with survivors saying there were originally 32 people on the boat, and one survivor telling authorities there were about 50.
The coast guard said four coast guard vessels, two helicopters from the navy and air force, a military transport plane, five passing ships and three private vessels were participating in the search and rescue operation.
The coast guard said the operation began Tuesday night after it received information that a vessel carrying migrants had suffered engine failure and later began taking on water south of Folegandros.
Those rescued had used a smaller vessel that had been on board the larger boat, and the coast guard said only two of the 12 had been wearing life jackets. The survivors told authorities the boat later sank.
Their nationalities were not immediately clear.
Greece is one of the most popular routes into the European Union for people fleeing conflict and poverty in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Most attempt to cross in dinghies from the Turkish shore to the nearby eastern Aegean Greek islands.
But with increased patrols and allegations of summary deportations back to Turkey for those who arrive, many have been attempting lengthier routes on larger vessels. Folegandros, one of the southern islands in the Cyclades, is not along a usual route for migrant smugglers.