Operation off Lesvos, Greece - 7 Confirmed Drowned, 57 Rescued on Mediterranean’s Busiest Route

Christine Nikolaidou of IOM Greece’s Athens office confirmed Tuesday morning these details of a deadly shipwreck off the island of Lesvos in Greece’s Aegean Sea. The location of the tragedy appears to have been approximately 2.5 miles away from the Lesvos’ port of Mitilene, in an area known as Pamfyla.

The rescue operation began at 7:00 am Tuesday morning, with forces from the Hellenic Coast Guard, Frontex and the Hellenic Air Force searching waters for victims. The HCG reported the operation finished at 11:30 AM, adding that it knows of no victims who remain missing.

Authorities say at least seven people have drowned after the capsizing of a seven-meter rubber dinghy believed to have left the Ayvalık region of Turkey’s coastline after midnight Tuesday morning.

The victims are four adult women, one adult male and two young girls. No additional information has been released so far about the victims’ nationality or age.

According to Greek authorities, the victims were retrieved from the water unconscious and were rushed to a local hospital, where their deaths were confirmed.

IOM Greece reports that the boat was carrying a total of 64 migrants, among them 57 survivors. According to unofficial information more than half the passengers came from three Sub-Saharan African countries: The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Angola.

These deaths would bring to 41 this year’s totals on the so-called Eastern Mediterranean route linking Africa and the Middle East to Europe. That compares with 46 drownings on this route through 9 June 2018. The Eastern Mediterranean route is also 2019’s busiest sea crossing lane for irregular migrants trying to reach Europe, with 9,660 arrivals to either Greece or Cyprus through 9 June, a slight increase over the 9,352 arrivals reported through 9 June last year (see chart below).

For further information, please contact Christine Nikolaidou, IOM Greece, Tel.:   +30 210 99 19 040 Email: