At Least 78 Die as Migrant Ship Sinks Near Greece

At least 78 people drowned in the Aegean Sea after a large fishing boat carrying migrants sank early Wednesday, the Greek Shipping Ministry said, in the deadliest such episode off the country’s coast since the height of the 2015 migration crisis.

More than 100 people were rescued, but the Greek Coast Guard warned that the death toll would probably increase.

The boat foundered about ‌50 miles southwest of the city of Pylos, in southern Greece, after the authorities were alerted to its unusual movements on Tuesday‌, according to a statement from the Greek Coast Guard.

A Greek Shipping Ministry official said that the boat had refused assistance offered by the authorities. He also said that cargo ships in the area had given the migrants food and water.

The official said the boat had departed from Tobruk, Libya, and was traveling to Italy. The cause of the sinking was unclear as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Greek authorities said that the coast guard and the military had deployed a large number of vessels in a “wide-ranging search and rescue operation” to rescue the survivors and locate the dead, many of whom were said to be migrants from Egypt, Pakistan and Syria.

It was unclear how many people were still missing, but interviews with survivors were expected to shed more light on the scale of the tragedy.

President Katerina Sakellaropoulou was reportedly on her way to the port of Kalamata, in southwestern Greece, where the local authorities have established an open-air clinic to provide first aid to survivors.

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