05 January 2010

Greece: four migrants drown at sea


ATHENS, January 4, 2009 - Coast guard officials in the northeastern port of Alexandroupoli on Saturday recovered the bodies of four people, all believed to be illegal immigrants. The first two bodies, those of a young man and woman, were found washed up on a beach near the port. The other two, both men, were found on a beach in nearby Rhodope.

The four drownings came just a few weeks after 10 Afghan migrants drowned off the coast of Lesvos, in the eastern Aegean, when their dinghy foundered on a rocky outcrop. Lesvos, along with Samos, Chios and Leros, receive almost daily boatloads of would-be migrants due to their proximity to the Turkish coast.

The Citizens’ Protection Ministry has pledged to restructure the coast guard this month to better curb a relentless influx of illegal immigrants seeking to enter the country through its land and sea borders, estimated at some 150,000 every year.