Bodies of 31 migrants recovered off coasts of Italy and Greece
A bout of mild weather brought more tragedy off the coasts of Italy and Greece on Thursday when at least 31 people died attempting perilous crossings from Libya and Turkey, authorities in both countries said, the Guardian reports.
Greek authorities recovered 25 bodies off the island of Samos, while another six were retrieved by the Italian navy – the first known deaths on the North Africa toItaly route this year. Those who had set off from the shores of Turkey were thought to be Iraqi Kurds. At least half of the victims were women and children.
Coast guard officials in Italy said they had rescued a total of 290 migrants throughout Thursday. They had attempted to make the passage in three rubber boats, one of which had nearly capsized by the time authorities reached it. On Tuesday the Italian coast guard had rescued 1,271 migrants attempting to cross from Libya.
The wave of migration from the Turkish coast to Greece’s outlying Aegean islands shows no sign of slowing.
“This time last year we had registered 740 arrivals,” said Spyros Galinos, the mayor of Lesbos, one of the islands that has received a large number of migrants. “And in the first 25 days of this year we have seen 25,000 arrive. I can’t imagine what the numbers will be like come the spring and summer.”
Greece’s inability either to control the flow or to register refugees efficiently elicited fierce criticism this week from the European commission.
The country was warned that it had three months to address serious failures in its handling of the influx, or it could face a two-year suspension from the passport-free Schengen zone.