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15 Migrants Drown Trying to Reach Greece

  • VOA News

People check bodies of migrants that were drowned as they were trying to reach Greece, at a port near Izmir, Turkey, Jan. 21, 2016.

People check bodies of migrants that were drowned as they were trying to reach Greece, at a port near Izmir, Turkey, Jan. 21, 2016.

Greek maritime officials said at least 15 bodies have been recovered in two separate sinkings of boats off of Greek islands Friday, as a seemingly unending wave of migrants continues to travel over treacherous winter waters to seek refuge in Europe.

A search is under way for other migrants still missing.

The Coast Guard said 41 people made it to shore after their boat sank off the small island of Farmakonissi in the eastern Aegean. Seven bodies were recovered.

In a separate incident, 26 people survived after their boat capsized off the island of Kalolimnos. Authorities say eight bodies were recovered.

The International Organization for Migration said earlier this week that since the beginning of 2016, an estimated 31,244 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece by sea.

The organization said that figure is many times greater than the 1,472 recorded by the Greek Coast Guard for the whole of January 2015.

IOM said the the number of maritime arrivals in Greece may "significantly exceed" the record 853,650 migrants who arrived in Greece by sea last year.

The migration agency says 48 percent of the migrant arrivals in Greece have been Syrians, 29 percent Afghans, 12 percent Iraqis, 3 percent Pakistanis and 2 percent Iranians.

Other nationalities include Algerians, Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Eritreans, Lebanese and Moroccans.

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