Fishing boats and coast guard vessels have rescued 242 people in a dramatic operation and brought them to the village Molyvos, on Lesbos’ northern coast.
The refugees were offered assistance by volunteers and doctors in makeshift shelters. Many of them were children and women suffering from shock or receiving first aid in a chapel at the port. Eighteen children were taken to the hospital, three in serious condition, local authorities said.
Although it is still unclear how many people were on the boat, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Greece told IBTimes UK that were 300 people on board, mostly Syrian refugees.
Coastguard boats, assisted by vessels from the European Frontex border agency and a helicopter, searched for survivors in the area.
At least 11 people — mostly children — died in five separate incidents in the eastern Aegean Sea on Wednesday, as thousands of people continued to head to the Greek islands from Turkey in frail boats and stormy weather. The IOM said that 71 people were rescued on Wednesday 28 October after another shipwreck off Lesbos, but two children lost consciousness and one died on Thursday.
Trace Myers, a volunteer in Lesbos with the charity Refugees Start, wrote on Facebook: “Today is a day of death. Members of this team have worked relentlessly to give CPR, support grieving people and have watched life pass from children’s eyes.
“A woman lost her baby and her husband, another woman saw her three or four-year-old child die and her other child rushed to hospital.”
Greek authorities have been accused of failing to improve conditions of thousands of migrants stranded on Lesbos. Earlier this week, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) treated hypothermia among the thousands of people waiting for as long as three days in the rain without shelter, food, water or warm clothes to be registered.
“We have witnessed a lot of pregnant women and children queuing for several days in the mud and pouring rain, without any protection from the elements, soaked to the skin and often wearing nothing warmer than a T-shirt,” said Yves Wailly, MSF’s project coordinator on Lesbos. “Some people can no longer stand up because their feet are so swollen after being wet for days at a time. Without the intervention of our medical teams or volunteers, police don’t allow refugees to leave the queue to get medical care. ”
The registration site was set up by the EU Commissioner last week as the first ‘hotspot’ registration centre in Greece.