7 killed after boat capsizes off Greek island of Lesvos

Athens [Greece]: At least seven people were killed after a boat carrying dozens of refugees capsized in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greek island of Lesvos on Tuesday.

The remaining 57 people on the boat were rescued in a joint search operation carried out by Hellenic Coast Guard, European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), as well Greek Air Force, reports Xinhua.

The refugees had set off from the Turkish shore in a plastic dinghy at about 2 am (local time). The overladen boat capsized shortly before reaching the island of Lesvos, even though the weather at that time was calm.

Of the seven people who drowned, three were children of African origin, local officials said.

Since 2015, hundreds of refugees from Turkey and Syria have lost their lives after undertaking treacherous sea journeys on overcrowded boats in a bid to escape the turmoil of their own countries.

Greece has become one of the main gateways for refugees entering Europe in recent years. According to a 2018 report by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 1 million refugees and migrants arrived in Greece, before the country closed its Balkan border in March 2016.