Greece on Friday rescued 138 refugees and recovered the bodies of 19 after their boat capsized off the island of Kalymnos, authorities said, in the second major deadly incident this week.
The death toll from drownings at sea has mounted recently as weather in the Aegean has taken a turn for the worse, turning wind-whipped sea corridors into deadly passages for thousands of refugees crossing from Turkey to Greece.
In a second incident off the island of Rhodes, three people, including a child and an infant, drowned and three were missing while six people were rescued at sea, a Greek coastguard said.
In the same development, some 16 people were confirmed dead and 274 people were rescued when a wooden boat they were on literally fell apart in rough seas off the Greek island of Lesbos late on Wednesday.
Greece has been a transit point for more than 500,000 refugees and migrants fleeing conflict in the Middle East and beyond since January- triggering bickering among European nations at odds on how to deal with one of the biggest humanitarian crises in decades.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR in a statement on Thursday said that smugglers offer ‘discounts’ of up to 50 per cent on tickets costing between 1,100 to 1,400 euros to make the journey on inflatable rafts in bad weather.
The agency expressed its commitment to addressing the issue of refugees as Europe faces its biggest migration influx since world war II.