Eight missing after wooden boat collides with Greek patrol vessel

Eight people are missing after a wooden boat carrying migrants or refugees attempting to reach the Aegean island of Lesbos sank after colliding with a patrol boat during a rescue operation.

Greece’s coastguard said 31 people on board were rescued, and the survivors reported eight people were missing.

The incident occurred just north of Lesbos, the island that has been the entry point of the majority of those making the journey from the nearby Turkish coast.

Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war or poverty have made the trip from Turkey to Greece so far this year. The vast majority head north to more prosperous European Union countries, and the sharp increase in arrivals has triggered an EU crisis.

Refguees arrive on Lesbos in September
Refguees arrive on Lesbos in September

Earlier, the coastguard said it had rescued 830 people in 20 search and rescue operations between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning off the eastern Aegean islands.

The rescues, which occurred near the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Kos, do not account for those who reach the shores themselves, generally in overcrowded inflatable dinghies.

On Wednesday, authorities recovered the bodies of a woman, a young girl and an infant from an overturned dinghy spotted by a helicopter of the European Union border policing agency Frontex.

The recovery came after an all-day search following the rescue in nearby Turkish waters of 21 others who had been in the dinghy.

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