One dead, one missing in migrant sinking off Greece’s Lesbos island

A woman drowned Wednesday and another was missing after an inflatable boat carrying dozens of migrants sank off the island of Lesbos, the Greek coastguard said.

Authorities added that they managed to pull 32 people from the water.

“A patrol vessel and rescue groups on land are continuing the search,” a coastguard press officer told AFP.

She added that the migrants are Somali.

Greece’s migration minister Notis Mitarachi earlier told parliament that the Turkish coastguard had spotted the boat after it issued a distress call, but allowed it to sail on to Greek waters. 

Like other Greek islands close to Turkey’s Aegean Sea coast, Lesbos is one of the main points where migrants arrive on the EU’s southeastern border.

Many boats that attempt the crossing sink, due especially to strong winter winds and overcrowding on the often improvised craft.

On November 9, the body of a six-year-old boy was found off the island of Samos after a boat sank, while seven people were recovered alive.

Greece’s conservative government has stepped up maritime border security and toughened migration laws, one factor contributing to sharp reduction in arrivals of people fleeing war and poverty in 2020.

But camps remain packed and migrants face harsh living conditions.