The sinking of a boat off the coast of southern Greece resulted in the deaths of at least 79 people and the rescue of more than 100 others.
However, Greek authorities and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) believe that the boat may have been carrying hundreds more migrants than initially reported.
This shipwreck is the deadliest that has occurred off the coast of Greece so far in 2018.
After the coast guard reported that the boat had refused assistance, it sank approximately 80 kilometres (50 miles) south-west of Pylos.
Greece migrants: Hundreds feared missing as boat sinks
According to the coastguard, an aircraft belonging to the EU border agency Frontex detected the boat late on Tuesday night when it was travelling through international waters. According to the report, nobody on board was even wearing a life jacket.
A search and rescue operation was necessary after the boat capsized and sank a couple of hours later, which the strong winds made more challenging.
An emergency helpline for migrants who are in peril at sea called Alarm Phone said that the Greek coastguard was “aware of the ship being in distress for hours before any help was sent.” The helpline added that the boat was in danger because “different sources” had informed authorities of it.
It went on to say that individuals may have been reluctant to interact with Greek officials due to their knowledge of the “horrible and systematic pushback practises” that are prevalent in the country.
It was stated that the boat was leaving Libya in the direction of Italy and that the majority of those on board were believed to be men in their 20s.
According to some of the survivors, there were as many as 500 to 700 people on board, and the area health director, Yiannis Karvelis, warned of an unparalleled disaster, saying, “The number of the people on board was much higher than the capacity that should be allowed for this boat.”
Coastguard Cpt. Nikolaos Alexiou said to public television that his colleagues had witnessed individuals crammed onto the deck of the vessel and that the vessel had sunk in one of the most remote areas of the Mediterranean.
There is currently no information available regarding the victims’ nationalities. The survivors have been transported to the town of Kalamata, where several of them were brought to the hospital to be treated for mild injuries or hypothermia.
The President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, went to see some of the survivors and conveyed her condolences to the families of those who had perished in the flood.
The sinking occurred prior to the elections that were held in Greece on the 25th of June, and party leaders ceased campaigning. On Thursday evening, there will be a debate regarding the upcoming election.
The Balkan Peninsula, which includes Greece, is one of the primary entry points into the European Union for refugees and migrants coming from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
The Greek government came under fire from around the world a month ago after a video purportedly depicting the forcible expulsion of migrants who were left floating at sea circulated online and garnered widespread attention.
According to figures provided by the United Nations, more than 70,000 refugees and migrants have landed in Europe’s frontline countries this year, with the majority of them setting foot in Italy.