ATHENS (Reuters) – A man and his two children died on Thursday after attempting to reach Greece in a boat that probably sank off the Aegean island of Samos close to Turkey’s coast, a Greek official said.
The Greek coast guard was alerted about a boat in distress in the early morning hours. They later found 11 people in the water off Samos, including two brothers aged four and a half.
“The twins were in a bad condition”, a coast guard official said adding that it was not yet clear what happened to the boat. The children later died.
The body of a man was later found in the water and was identified by witnesses as the father of the two.
Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond have made the perilous journey from the Turkish coast to a chain of Greek islands, a gateway into the European Union. Many have drowned.
More than a million people made the journey in 2015, although the numbers have since dropped sharply after a deal the following year between the EU and Turkey, which agreed to take back Syrian refugees and other asylum seekers who cross by sea.
Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Peter Graff