One of Europe’s deadliest migrant disasters unfolded off the southern coast of Greece recently when a fishing boat capsized, leading to the death of at least 78 people. According to survivors, the boat may have carried as many as 100 children. Estimates suggest that up to 750 individuals might have been aboard, indicating a higher potential death toll and a significant number of people possibly still missing at sea. In response to this tragic incident, nine suspects, including multiple Egyptians, have been detained on charges of human trafficking.
The Greek coastguard is facing criticism for their delayed intervention. However, the authorities claim that their initial offers of assistance were rejected. Rescue operations continue around the area where the boat capsized, located nearly 50 nautical miles off the southwest coast, despite dwindling hopes of finding more survivors.
Reportedly, the ill-fated vessel left Egypt empty, stopping at the Libyan port of Tobruk to pick up migrants bound for Italy. Although images displayed overcrowded decks, medics attending to the predominantly male survivors received accounts of a significant number of women and children trapped in the ship’s hold.
Dr. Manolis Makaris, head of cardiology at Kalamata General Hospital, suggested that the vessel could have carried around 100 children, based on survivor accounts. Two patients gave him varying estimates, one suggesting about 100 children and the other about 50. However, the exact number remains uncertain.
Dr. Makaris suspects the death toll could reach as high as 600. He emphasized that the total number of people on the boat was around 750, according to consistent accounts from multiple sources. Families of missing Egyptian children have sent him photographs of their relatives, hoping he might recognize them following treatment.
The tragedy has underscored the urgent need for intervention to prevent similar incidents in the future. Even though the BBC could not independently confirm the number of children on the boat, the international charity organization, Save the Children, corroborated the figure based on survivor testimonies. Greek government spokesman Ilias Siakantaris admitted uncertainty about the exact number of people confined in the ship’s hold but stressed that smugglers often employ such methods to exert control.