Photo Credit: MSF
A boat carrying about 85 people capsized off the northern coast of Lesvos, Greece, at 2.30pm of 16 December, causing at least two deaths.
When arrived on scene, two assistance boats from MSF and Greenpeace began rescuing as many people as possible, with Sea-Watch supporting the search, with a team of hellenic life guards on board. Survivors were transferred to a Norwegian Frontex vessel that had arrived to support the rescue operation. Others were transferred to other actors operating in the area.
The capsizing boat “was overloaded, sinking at the back, and literally tipping over onto itself due to the massive amount of passengers,” said Kim Clausen, MSF deputy project coordinator. “There were strong winds and the waves were at least one meter high and people were already in the water.”
83 people were finally rescued, most of them Iraqis, and transferred to the nearby towns of Molyvos and Petra. Many were in need of resuscitation or were treated for hypothermia by MSF teams at the arrival points.
At least two people, an 80-year-old man and a nine-month-old child, were witnessed to have drowned, however, the death toll is believed to be higher. While European leaders discuss how to further fortify their borders, children continue to die at sea.
Sea-Watch renews its call for a safe and legal passage at the land border between Turkey and Greece and urges the EU authorities to step up SAR operations in the Aegean Sea.