1 dead in incident involving migrant boat off Greek island

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — One woman died and another two were rescued Friday from the sea off the eastern Greek island of Lesbos in an incident involving an inflatable dinghy carrying Somali migrants.

Greece’s coast guard said 24 migrants who were located safe on shore early Friday told authorities that three women had fallen into the sea as their boat approached Lesbos, and were still missing.

Patrol boats and a helicopter combed the area, and several hours later found two women alive in the water and the body of a third, a coast guard statement said.

The migrants told authorities they were from Somalia and had crossed over from the nearby Turkish coast.

Rescuers continued to search the area for traces of a migrant-trafficker thought to have been on the boat and to have also ended up in the water.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, expressed deep distress at the accident.

More than 15,000 migrants and refugees have entered Greece illegally so far this year, most crossing from Turkey to the nearby Greek islands in unseaworthy boats provided by trafficking gangs.

Although the flows have decreased significantly compared to 2019, some 17,000 people still live in camps on the islands pending examination of their asylum applications. Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized conditions in the camps, particularly at the largest, Kara Tepe, on Lesbos, which has more than 7,000 residents.

On Friday police said doctors confirmed that a 3-year-old Afghan girl found bleeding and unconscious in the bathrooms at the Kara Tepe camp had been raped. The child is recovering in a hospital, while police are investigating the Monday attack.

No arrests have been made so far.

Rights groups have repeatedly warned that women and children in the camps are vulnerable to sexual violence from male residents.

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