Migrant Boat Sinks Off Greek Island of Lesbos; 26 Feared Missing

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece — Twenty-six migrants were feared missing early on Sunday after a dinghy carrying them sank off the Greek island of Lesbos, the coastguard said.

A refugee woman, who saved her baby holding his head over the water, rests on Lesbos.STRATIS BALASKAS / EPA

Their nationalities were not immediately known. A search-and-rescue operation was under way and 20 other people were pulled from the water, a coastguard spokeswoman said.

"They (the migrants) told rescuers there were 46 people in the inflatable dinghy in total," she said.

Rescues and sinkings have become almost daily occurrences in the often choppy seas off Greece's eastern islands.

Hundreds of thousands of mainly Syrian refugees have braved the short crossing from Turkey this year, mainly in flimsy and overcrowded inflatable boats.

A girl believed to be five years old died on Saturday and 13 others were feared lost overboard after their boat sank off the island of Lesbos, a favored entry point on a route that takes the migrants through the Balkans toward northern Europe.

Fifteen babies and children were among 34 who died a week ago when their boat capsized off the small island of Farmakonisi.