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Migrant Boat Sinking: 5 Kids Among 11 Who Drown Off Greek Coast

At least 11 people drowned, including five children, and 13 were missing after a boat carrying dozens of migrants sank off Greece's eastern coast.
/ Source: Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece — Five children were among 11 migrants who drowned after a boat carrying dozens sank off the Greece's eastern coast Wednesday, officials said.

The Greek coast guard said 13 people were still missing after the sinking, while 26 had been rescued alive. The incident happened early Wednesday when a wooden boat carrying the migrants from Turkey sank near the islet of Farmakonissi, they said.

Four men and two women were also among those who drowned. Their nationalities were not immediately known.

More than 700,000 migrants have crossed into Greece this year, many fleeing conflict in Syria or Iraq. Nearly all have entered the country from Turkey, paying large fees to smuggling gangs who arrange their crossings in small, overcrowded boats. Hundreds of people have drowned this year in the Aegean Sea, including dozens of children.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Germany and France have proposed giving an EU border force the power to patrol Greece's frontiers in the latest sign of hardening attitudes toward solving Europe's migration crisis.

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The proposal, in a letter sent last week to the EU executive in Brussels and seen by Reuters on Tuesday, would in principle apply to any member state, not just Greece. But it is driven by frustration that Greek failure to control large numbers arriving by sea is putting the EU's open-borders Schengen zone at risk.

NBC News could not immediately independently verify the report.

EU leaders, struggling for unity and facing competing pressures at home, will again discuss the crisis at a summit on Dec. 17. Diplomats expect calls for more coercive pressure on both governments and migrants to follow policy set in Brussels.