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Migrant boat sinks near Greece, leaving 7 dead


A Greek coast guard boat arrives at the port of Mytilene after patroling on the Mediterranean sea between the Greek island of Lesbos and Turkey on March 19, 2019. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

A migrant boat sunk near Greece Tuesday morning, leaving seven people dead.

The Hellenic Coast Guard said Tuesday they rescued 57 passengers in the northeast port of Mytilene, the capital of the island Lesbos, after a boat overturned in the morning.

During the rescue, one man, four women and two girls, were pulled unconscious from the water. The seven unconscious people were transferred to the General Hospital of Mytilene where they were pronounced dead.

The boat was traveling from Lesbos to Turkey, as reported by BBC. The Greek Coast Guard did not provide specific information on the nationalities of the passengers, but local media said they were of African descent.

Officials from the Central Port Authority of Mytilene are carrying out an investigation.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement they are “deeply saddened” by the events.

“This tragedy is a painful reminder that people continue to take perilous journeys to reach the Greek Aegean islands,” Philippe Leclerc, UNHCR Representative in Greece said in a statement. “Redoubled efforts are needed to ensure safe and legal ways to reach Europe, so people stop risking their lives in the hands of ruthless traffickers and smugglers.”

In 2019 alone, nearly 10,700 refugees and migrants have reached Greece by sea. While attempting the journey, 39 people have died this year, UNHCR said.