ATHENS, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) — At least 41 people lost their lives in two tragedies in the Aegean Sea on Friday, when boats carrying refugees and migrants from the Turkish shores to the Greek islands capsized, Greek Coast Guard announced.
According to the latest death toll, among the victims who drowned in the cold waters near the islands of Kalolimnos and Farmakonissi were seventeen children, the Greek officials said.
Rescue operations are underway, as survivors have told authorities that there were several more people on one of the boats. The number of missing is still unclear.
In the first incident off Kalolimnos the Coast Guard has so far recovered 34 dead bodies- among them the eleven children- and rescued 26 people. Survivors said that there were 50-100 people on board.
In the second tragedy off Farmakonissi Greek Coast Guard recovered the bodies of six children and one woman after rescuing 40 survivors. The latter told authorities there were no other passengers missing in this case.
Despite the bad weather people fleeing war torn regions in the Middle East and Asia and economic migrants are still risking their lives to cross over from Turkey to Greece and continue their journey to other European countries aspiring a better future.
Turkish smugglers have reduced to 500 euros (541 U.S. dollars) per person the fee for a ticket on one of the old boats provided to the desperate refugees, according to Greek authorities. In the summertime the price for a ticket reached up to 2,000 euros per passenger.
More than 800,000 people reached Greek shores in 2015, according to official data. Greek Coast Guard rescued about 95,000 people, while more than 200 perished in the Aegean- half of them children during the last year.