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At least 12 migrants killed in boat sinking off Greek coast

November 15, 2013
tags:#asylum seekers, #Europe, #Greece, #refugees
Adding to a long line of migrant boat tragedies in the Mediterranean, Al Jazeera is reporting that at least 12 migrants, including four children, died this morning off the coast of a Greek island.

The migrants were travelling in an inflatable boat which sank near Lefkada, a western Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is presumed they were headed towards Italy.

Some survivors landed at a nearby coastal town.

As weather conditions this morning were calm, Lefkada's mayor says it is difficult to understand how the boat sank, but that it looked as if the boat had been overcrowded.

Greece is a main port of entry to European Union for migrants and refugees fleeing Africa and the Middle East, with refugee traffic rising over the past year due to the ongoing Syrian conflict. Arrivals by sea have increased as a result of stricter controls on the Greek-Turkish land border.

EU immigration policies have come under fire in the last two months after more than 400 asylum seekers drowned in two incidents near Lampedusa, another popular sea port of entry in Italy.

A two-day summit of EU leaders ended last month without clear resolve to prevent such tragedies and the leaders will not see another opportunity to discuss the issue until June 2014.

Meanwhile, hope for a new life in Europe continues to lure desperate migrants across the Mediterranean.

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An Armed Forces of Malta ship carrying rescued migrants arrives at the AFM Maritime Squadron base at Haywharf in Valletta