At least 79 people have died after a migrant boat weighted down with hundreds of people headed for Italy capsized and sank off the Peloponnese coast of Greece in the early morning hours of June 13, 2023. While a final number of migrants onboard has not been released, the Greek Coast Guard fears the number could be in the hundreds as they continue their search.
Image Credit: Hellenic Coastguard and Reuters
While MAYAN QUEEN IV has not released its own statement yet, it is understood they rescued at least 100 survivors from the water who have now been safely transferred to the nearby city of Kalamata.
While there are conflicting reports about the total number of passengers onboard, the numbers could be anywhere from 400 to as many as 750 people onboard at the time of its sinking. It is believed the engine died upon reaching the middle of the Mediterranean Sea after casting off from eastern Libya and sank within minutes.
The Mayor of Kalamata, Thanasis Vasilopoulos released a statement saying, “All the men who have been rescued are between 16-41 years old according to what they said. They also said there were women and children on board.” It is believed most were from Afghanistan and Pakistan bound for a new life in Italy.
Nikos Alexiou, a spokesperson for the Hellenic coastguard commented, “The outer part of the boat was full of people and we assume that was the case below deck too. The boat was overcrowded. A precise number cannot with certainty be given but what is sure is that it is very big.”
With a dramatic increase in migrant boats navigating the Med, UN chief Antonio Guterres posted on Twitter, “As I’ve said before – every person searching for a better life deserves safety & dignity.”
This is a developing story with search and rescue operations still underway.