12 February 2010
Athens – As reported by the Greek Coast Guard, the bodies of eight people – including six men, one woman and one young girl around eight years of age – were recovered yesterday, following a rescue search that had started late Wednesday, with the participation of the local coast guard and a Super Puma helicopter.
Authorities are still searching for possible survivors, after a cargo ship rescued one man from the sea near the eastern Aegean island. The survivor explained that he had been in a rubber dinghy that had sailed from the Turkish shores, when the vessel capsized during a storm. He also said that apart from the eight victims, there were more people on board.
“UNHCR expresses deep regret and condolences to the families of the people who lost their lives off the island of Samos. Thousands of migrants and refugees try to enter Greece every year, most of them sailing from Turkey in small, flimsy boats, risking their lives in desperate attempts to find protection, since they flee persecution or war, or better economic conditions in Europe,” said UNHCR Public Information Officer, Ketty Kehayioylou, who paid tribute to the efforts of the Greek Coast Guard for its rescue operations.
Last January, the Greek authorities recovered 22 bodies on northern Greek shores over the space of several days, all believed to have originated from the same shipwreck. In October 2009, 10 people from Afghanistan had drowned when their boat smashed onto rocks and sank a few meters off the shores of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos.
According to information from the Ministry of Citizen’ Protection, in 2009, 24 people were reported dead and 59 missing, in their attempt to reach Greece.
For further information you may contact:
Ketty Kehayioylou, Public Information Officer, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stella Nanou, Snr PI Clerk, e-mail: email@example.com
Website: www.unhcr.org (English)