Up to 50 missing after migrant boat sinks off Greece

A migrant boat capsized in the Aegean Sea on Wednesday, leaving about 50 people missing. The Greek coastguard said that an air and sea rescue operation was in progress.

After setting sail on Tuesday from Antalya, southern Turkey, bound for Italy, the ship capsized at daybreak off the islands of Karpathos and Rhodes.

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“According to the statements of 29 rescued people, there were 80 people on the boat, so up to 50 people are missing,” a coastguard press office official told AFP.

However, state news station ERT reported that there were between 30 and 60 passengers on board.

Nikos Kokalas, a Coastguard spokesman, stated to the channel: “It is improbable that the boat was transporting 80 migrants. We are discussing a smaller sum.”

According to a coastguard statement, four ships already cruising in the southern Aegean, two coastguard patrol boats, and a Greek air force helicopter participated in the rescue operation, which was requested by commercial shipping minister Yannis Plakiotakis.

Kokalas reported to Skai radio that the operation was being hampered by strong gusts that could gust up to 50 kph (30 mph).

“Many of those shipwrecked were not wearing life jackets,” Kokalas said.

Two survivors were pulled from the water by an army chopper and flown to Karpathos, as seen in a coast guard video.

The coastguard said that a further 27 passengers were transported to land on a tanker that joined the search effort off the coast of Kos.

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