Death toll rises to 23 from migrant sailboat wreck in Greece

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The body of one more migrant has been found in the western Aegean Sea near where an overloaded sailboat smuggling dozens of people to Europe sank in rough seas this week, Greek authorities said Friday, raising the total death toll to 23.

A coast guard statement said the number of survivors so far remains at 12, which leaves another 34 people reported missing from Tuesday’s accident in a dangerous strait between the islands of Evia and Andros.

The dead include five children. Two of the 12 survivors have been arrested on suspicion of working for the smuggling gang that had organized the voyage from Turkey, by skippering and crewing the sailboat.

Others among the survivors — who were all men — said the vessel had departed from the area of Izmir in western Turkey with 68 people on board, and capsized before sinking in high seas.

It was the latest in a series of recent deadly shipwrecks of boats carrying migrants through Greek seas. At least 27 people drowned in two separate shipwrecks last month.

Thousands of people from the Middle East, Asia and Africa try to enter European Union member Greece illegally through perilous sea journeys every year, seeking a better life in the 27-nation bloc.

According to United Nations data, more than 25,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to the EU since 2014.

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