Baby dies after migrant boat breaks down off Greek island

Refugees and migrants arriving at the Lesbos island after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on Oct 8, 2015.
Refugees and migrants arriving at the Lesbos island after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on Oct 8, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

ATHENS (REUTERS) - A baby died after the rubber boat carrying him and another 56 migrants broke down and was left adrift off the Greek island of Lesbos, the Greek coastguard said on Friday (Oct 9).

The 1-year-old boy, whose nationality was not made known, was found unconscious on a rubber dinghy which had broken down and went adrift late on Thursday. The boy was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The coastguard rescued the rest of the migrants, some of whom were in the sea.

The baby was one of thousands of refugees - mostly fleeing war-torn Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq - who attempt the short but perilous crossing from the Turkish coast to Greek islands by boat, often in rough seas.

Almost 400,000 people have arrived in Greece this year, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has said, overwhelming the crisis-stricken government's ability to cope. Most have rapidly headed north towards Germany.

The coastguard has rescued a total of 542 migrants and refugees off the Aegean islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Farmakonisi and Agathonisi since early on Thursday.

Europe's migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and Luxembourg Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn are expected in Athens on Friday and will give a joint news conference on the refugee crisis on Saturday.