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15 July, 2024
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More details and questions emerge in boat disaster

BBC report casts doubt over Greek coast guard story, Kathimerini publishes harrowing accounts of survivors


Harrowing accounts are emerging from survivors in the boat disaster that killed hundreds of irregular migrants last week, with additional reports from BBC casting doubt over the Greek coast guard’s version of events.

Kathimerini in Greece has published excerpts from two survivors who described conditions that prevailed on the fishing trawler that sunk off southwestern Greece early Wednesday, sending hundreds of people to their watery grave.

According to the accounts, there were engine troubles on the boat that was carrying an estimated 700 passengers, 104 of whom have been rescued while 78 bodies have been recovered.

Greek coast guard officials said the boat had refused assistance and further claimed the vessel’s operators wanted to continue their route to Italy.

Greek officials maintain people on board had refused help and said they were not in danger but the BBC report suggests the overcrowded fishing vessel was not moving for hours before it capsized

But according to the BBC, new evidence cast doubt over the coastguard's version of events, with a reporter saying that analysis of ship movement in the area suggested the overcrowded fishing vessel was not moving for at least seven hours before it capsized.

“The coastguard still claims that during these hours the boat was on a course to Italy and not in need of rescue,” BBC said.

Greek officials maintain people on board had told coast guard officers that they did not want help and were not in danger until just before their boat sank.

Additional reports suggested the boat operators had refused help from Greek officials but not from other vessels, with some networks hinting that Hellenic Coast Guard was viewed negatively by those on the fishing vessel.

It later became evident that Greek coast guard attempted to use a rope at least one time, but reports surrounding the incident remained unclear, with officials saying they wanted to stabilize the boat while other witnesses believed the rope was used as an attempt to push back the vessel.

“Half an hour later the boat’s engine stopped again. I was sitting on my knees and reciting prayers because I was afraid and suddenly I felt the boat tilting to one side. The boat began to take on water. Then we all moved to the other side and, because the weight went to the other side, the boat began to sink,” said a 24-year-old man who lost his wife and children in the incident.

UN officials have called for an investigation into Greece's handling of the disaster, amid claims from activists and other witnesses, including statements from seamen on other ships, suggesting more action should have taken place sooner in order to initiate a full-scale rescue attempt.

Additional reports said the fishing boat was clearly overcrowded with passengers who had no life jackets, suggesting their situation at sea for many hours ought to have been handled as an emergency rescue despite purported refusals by boat operators who allegedly refused help from Greek authorities.

Cyprus  |  Greece  |  boat disaster  |  migrant  |  refugee  |  economic migrant  |  asylum  |  coast guard  |  Pylos

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