Migrant boat sinks off Greece, dozens including Kurds feared missing

Twelve migrants, believed to be from Iraq, have been rescued

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Dozens of migrants are believed to be missing after a boat sank off the coast of Folegandros island, Greek authorities said on Wednesday.

Greek coast guard said a large search and rescue operation had been launched early on Wednesday after the boat sank some 180 kilometers southeast of Athens, according to AP.

Twelve people, all believed to be from Iraq, had been rescued and transported to the nearby island of Santorini, it added.

AP cited survivors as saying that there originally 32 people on the boat, but one told authorities that there were about 50.

“The survivors made it onto a dinghy that was tethered to the boat. Only two of them were wearing life jackets,” Coast Guard spokesman Nikos Kokkalas told state-run ERT television, AP reported.

“We always presume the worst-case scenario, in this that 50 people were on the boat,” he said.

Four coast guard vessels, two helicopters from the navy and air force, a military transport plane, five passing ships and three private vessels were participating in the search and rescue operation.

The coast guard said the operation began on Tuesday night after it received information that a vessel carrying migrants had suffered engine failure, according to AP.

Meanwhile, a Kurdish refugee federation said most of the 70 migrants on the boat were people from the Kurdistan Region.

Activist Ranj Pishdari said on his Facebook page that he had spoken with some of the migrants as the boat was sinking off.

Nearly 60 of the migrants were Kurds, he added.

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