Dozens of migrants dead, fears for hundreds missing in Greece shipwreck

At least 79 migrants died after their boat sank off the Peloponnese, Greece's coastguard said Wednesday, as concern mounted that the death toll could rise much higher.

Some 100 people were rescued after the packed fishing boat capsized in international waters in the Ionian Sea in an operation complicated by strong winds, the coastguard said.

But there were fears for scores of women and children, as most of the survivors were men, state TV ERT reported -- which is unusual for a migrant group of this size.

A survivor told hospital doctors in the port city of Kalamata, where the rescued were taken, that he had seen a hundred children in the boat's hold, ERT said.

"The fishing boat was 25-30 metres long. Its deck was full of people, and we assume the interior was just as full," coastguard spokesman Nikolaos Alexiou told ERT.

"We do not know what was in the hold... but we know that several smugglers lock people up to maintain control," government spokesman Ilias Siakantaris told ERT.

Siakantaris said there were reports, that could not be confirmed at present, of up to 750 people on board.

The International Organization for Migration said in a tweet: "We fear more lives were lost. Initial reports suggest up to 400 people were onboard."

The coastguard spokesman said the search and rescue effort would continue during the night with flares fired by a C-130 military transport plane.

The boat's engine gave up shortly before 2300 GMT on Tuesday and the vessel capsized in the deepest waters of the Mediterranean, Siakantaris said.

The boat sank in around 10 to 15 minutes, he added in a separate note to media.

The survivors are mainly from Syria, Pakistan and Egypt, Alexiou said.

Greece's head of...

Continue reading on: