At least 13 migrants – six of them children – drowned off Turkey on Sunday after the inflatable dinghy carrying them to Greece was hit in the dark by a Turkish-flagged ship, Turkish media reported. The children’s bodies were recovered by the Turkish coastguard with reports from Greece indicating that another two children may still be missing.
They were on a flimsy vessel taking at least 46 migrants from Turkey’s northwestern coast to the Greek holiday island of Lesbos when the accident happened, the private Dogan news agency reported.
“It was dark, we saw the ship bearing down on us. We tried to signal with flashlights and cellphones but they did not see us,” a survivor called Haseen told Greece’s state news agency, ANA.
Thrown into the water, the passengers were left fighting to keep their heads above water as a succession of big waves from the ship’s wake crashed over them. “We lost the children. We could not see them in the dark,” Haseen said.
A mother and baby, who had spent at least two hours in the water, were among the survivors, according to ANA. The Greek coastguard said it had rescued 22 people from a boat that sank off Lesbos, apparently referring to the same incident, claiming there were 48 people on board.
Greece’s marine ministry said a search was underway for those missing. The Greek coastguard later recovered the bodies of a woman and a young girl. It was not clear whether they had drowned in the same accident.
On Saturday, a five-year-old Syrian girl drowned and several other refugees were reported missing after their boat also sank trying to reach Lesbos.