16 migrant women dead in shipwreck off Greek island

At least 16 migrant women died when their vessel sank off the Greek island of Lesbos in the central Aegean Sea early on Thursday, the country’s coastguard said as quoted by Reuters.

It is the second maritime disaster involving migrants in less than a day.

A coast guard official said the sunken boat was carrying about 40 people, the coastguard said, citing people that had been rescued so far. There were 16 bodies recovered, he added. Another 9 women were rescued and about 15 people were missing.

The boat sank east of Lesbos, which lies close to Turkey’s coast, according to Reuters report.

Greek Migration Minister Notis Mittarachi tweeted a call for Turkey to take “immediate action to prevent all irregular departures due to harsh weather conditions.”

“Already today many lives lost in the Aegean, people are drowning in unseaworthy vessels. EU must act,” he wrote.

Reuters reports that in the earlier incident, Greek authorities rescued 80 migrants whose boat sank after hitting a rocky area in stormy waters near the island of Kythira in southern Greece on Wednesday. According to those rescued, 15 were still missing and the search and rescue operation was still ongoing.

A Greek coastguard vessel and an air force helicopter were rushing to conduct a search and rescue operation near Lesbos on Thursday, with strong winds blowing in the area.