One migrant dead, 27 rescued on Greek island

Refugees and migrants make their way in the Kara Tepe camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, on Oct 14, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

ILE DE LESBOS, GRÈCE (AFP) - The Greek coastguard said it recovered the body of a migrant and rescued 27 others who reached the island of Lesbos in icy weather after a voyage from Turkey.

The migrants, mostly from Somalia, landed on eastern Lesbos late on Monday (Jan 18) where they spent the night, a coastguard official said.

It was not clear what happened to their boat which has not been found.

One man appeared to have died of the cold, as temperatures dropped below freezing. His identity was not revealed.

"Authorities initially found 24 people, including 15 women, a child and eight men," the official said.

But after being told that three others were missing, the coastguard found them on another Lesbos beach.

The 27 are to be transferred to a hospital in the island's main town of Mytilene.

The Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, including Lesbos, are one of the main entry points in Europe for asylum-seekers fleeing poverty and wars.

Hundreds have drowned trying to cross from Turkey in recent years in unseaworthy, overloaded boats and dinghies.

But the number of arrivals has dropped sharply since last year after the conservative Greek government stepped up security operations and restrictions were imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said on Tuesday the number of migrants in camps on five Aegean islands had dropped from 34,000 at the start of 2020 to 15,000 currently.

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