Questions emerged about a fishing boat carrying hundreds of migrants that sank Wednesday off the coast of Greece, with new reports adding to confusion over the approach towards the trawler by Greek authorities.
At least 79 people died and hundreds were missing in one of the worst disasters of its kind this year, after an overloaded boat capsized off the coast of Greece, about halfway from Libya to its reported destination in Italy.
Greek coast guard authorities said in a statement that the vessel repeatedly declined offers of help.
Greek authorities said in a statement that the vessel repeatedly declined offers of help but reports relayed Thursday morning on Cypriot state radio suggested circumstances were still unclear
But reports relayed Thursday morning on Cypriot state radio suggested the circumstances of the incident were still unclear.
It was suggested there were still questions about the cause of a reported engine failure, while there was also speculation that the boat came to a halt and much later capsized after passengers were thought to have attempted to move to one side of the vessel.
Reports said there were many passengers including children in the hold.
According to the Kathimerini Greece, a network of activists that provides an Alarm Phone hotline for migrants in trouble, said it was contacted by people on a boat in distress on Tuesday afternoon.
But it was unclear whether the signal came from the fishing boat that sank or another vessel in the same general area.
Additional reports said migrants were fearful of getting assistance from Greek authorities, fearing a pushback and rumors over bad treatment towards asylum seekers.
Greek authorities have released an aerial photograph of the vessel, showing scores of people covering all areas of the entire deck.
Media reports said the fishing boat had been at sea for least two days.
Over a hundred passengers have been rescued following the incident, which came just after EU states emerged from tough negotiations about immigration and asylum in the bloc.
Greek authorities in the past have been accused of pushing back refugee boats as well as denying safe access to asylum procedures.
Athens has declared a three-day mourning period, as hundreds of people were believed to have died in the deepest waters where the Mediterranean meets the Ionian Sea.