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Lost at sea

Lost at sea

79 drown in migrant boat disaster

The aerial photos released by the Greek coastguard are blurry, but show dozens of people onboard a large vessel, their arms waving towards the camera. A few hours later, the boat carrying migrants from Libya to Italy began veering from side to side, before capsizing and sinking about ‌50 miles southwest of Pylos in southern Greece at around 2am on Wednesday. So far, the official death toll stands at 79, with 104 people rescued (a nearby superyacht took dozens of survivors to the southern port of Kalamata). It is the deadliest incident since the height of the 2015 migration crisis, with the coastguard warning the death toll could increase. The UN’s migration agency estimated that there were 400 people onboard, but the boat sank in a spot where the sea is about 13,000 feet deep, says the NYT, which could put the wreck and victims beyond divers’ reach. Greece, which has been accused by rights groups of illegally pushing back migrants at sea, has declared three days of national mourning. Last year, nearly 3,800 people died on migration routes within and from the Middle East and north Africa region, according to a new UN report – the highest death toll in five years. As many as 84 per cent of those who die on sea routes remain unidentified.

Photograph Hellenic Coast Guard