ATHENS (Reuters) - At least eight migrants including two children drowned when a wooden boat carrying them capsized north of the Greek island of Kalolimnos early on Friday, a coastguard official said, as the refugee flow towards Europe continues despite the winter cold.
“Eight bodies have been recovered and 26 have been rescued and taken to the island,” a Greek coastguard official said. “They were on a wooden sailboat. We do not yet have a clear picture of how many were on board.”
A search and rescue operation was ongoing off Kalolimnos, a small island in the southeastern Aegean Sea close to Turkey’s coast, assisted by a helicopter and other vessels, the official said.
It was not clear why the vessel capsized, the official said.
Fleeing war, thousands of mainly Syrian refugees have braved rough seas this year to make the short but precarious journey from Turkey to Greece’s islands, from which most continue to mainland Greece and northward into wealthier western Europe.
Winter conditions make the journey even more dangerous.
Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Theodora Arvanitidou; Editing by Alison Williams