Death toll rises to 16 in latest Greece migrant boat accident


16 people died when their boat overturned off the Greek island of Paros in the central Aegean Sea, hours after a similar incident claimed another 11 lives.

The latest tragedy -- the third since Wednesday -- came amid heightened smuggler movement not seen in Greek waters in months.

According to Athens News Agency, the coastguard found 16 bodies late Friday, including those of three women and a baby, and rescued 63 people from a boat that overturned and sank near the island of Paros.

Hours before, 11 bodies were recovered from a boat that ran aground on an islet north of the Greek island of Antikythera on Thursday evening.

Ninety people stranded on the islet were rescued, the coastguard said.

On Wednesday, a dinghy carrying migrants capsized off the island of Folegandros, killing at least three people.

Thirteen people were rescued, while dozens remain missing, Greek authorities said.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said the Folegandros accident was the worst in the Aegean Sea this year.

The circumstances under which the vessel capsized were unclear.

Giannis Plakiotakis, Greece’s shipping minister, said trafficking gangs were responsible for the disasters.

The gangs “are indifferent to human life, stacking dozens of people, without lifejackets, in vessels which do not conform to the most basic of safety standards,” he said in a written statement.

Earlier Friday, Greek authorities said they had recovered 11 bodies from the scene of another shipwreck when a sailboat carrying migrants sank off an uninhabited islet in southern Greece on Thursday.

Another 90 people were rescued in that operation. The coastguard said initial information suggested those migrants had also been heading for Italy.