Fears after migrant boat which sank off coast of Greece ‘had 100 children on it’

As many as 100 children are believed to be among the missing from the migrant shipwreck off the coast of Greece. A huge search-and-rescue operation initially recovered 79 bodies and picked up 104 survivors — all men and boys. But no more have since been found.

The charity Save the Children said in a statement: “According to initial testimonies from survivors, 100 children were in the hold, with the death toll expected to increase.”

The trawler may have carried as many as 750 passengers, including women and children who were likely trapped in the hold as the vessel overturned and went down early Wednesday. That could make the sinking one of the deadliest ever in the central Mediterranean Sea.

Relatives of the migrants — who each paid thousands of dollars for passage on the battered vessel — gathered in the southern port city of Kalamata to look for their loved ones.

Kassem Abu Zeed said he caught the first flight from Germany to Greece after realising that his wife and brother-in-law were aboard the trawler.

“The last time we spoke was eight days ago, and (my wife) told me that she was getting ready to get on the boat,” Abu Zeed told The Associated Press. “She had paid $5,000” to smugglers. “And then we all know what happened.”

Abu Zeed, a 34-year-old Syrian refugee living in Hamburg, said Esra Aoun, 21, and her 19-year-old brother, Abdullah, risked the dangerous crossing from Libya to Italy after they failed to find a legal way to join him in Germany.

Aftab Khan, from Wolverhampton, believes his relatives could be among those missing from the shipwreck.

He told Sky News: “We don’t know where they are at the moment. We are just trying to find out.”

READ MORE: Hundreds lost at sea as boat with 750 migrants sinks leaving 79 dead

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

The Greek authorities said that migrants on the deck of the fishing boat repeatedly turned down attempted assistance from a coastguard boat that was shadowing it, saying they wanted to reach Italy.

Nikolaos Alexiou, a spokesman for the coastguard, told Greek television: “The fishing boat was 25-30m long. Its deck was full of people, and we assume the interior was just as full.”

He added: “When you are faced with such a situation … you need to be very careful in your actions.

“You cannot carry out a violent diversion on such a vessel with so many people on board … without any sort of cooperation.”

The chances of finding more survivors “are minimal,” retired Greek coast guard Adm. Nikos Spanos told ERT.

Nine survivors from the boat were arrested Thursday on suspicion of smuggling as hope faded for hundreds of missing passengers and attention turned to Greece’s failure to act before the overcrowded ship capsized.

Source: Read Full Article