Seven migrants die as boat sinks off Greek island

Seven bodies, including those of two children, were recovered from the sea off the eastern Aegean island of Kos yesterday after a boat carrying migrants sank, Greek authorities said.

Rescue crews recovered the bodies of three men, two women, a boy and a girl.

There were two survivors — a man and a woman.

A search and rescue operation in the area by vessels from the Greek coastguard and the European border patrol agency Frontex, a helicopter and Greek rescue volunteers was called off after all on board the boat were accounted for.

Meanwhile, an EU investigation has found major flaws in Greece’s management of its borders, which could pave the way for its EU partners to introduce long-term ID checks to restrict the entry of migrants further into the continent.

Backing up the suspicions of several EU nations, surprise inspections by expert teams in Greece, including on Aegean islands near the coast of Turkey, found that Greek authorities were failing to properly register and fingerprint people or correctly check their travel papers.

The EU’s top migration official, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said its “report shows there are serious deficiencies in the management of the external border in Greece”.

More than 850,000 people are thought to have entered Greece last year seeking sanctuary or jobs in Europe. Greece only has shelter for about 10,000 people.

The Greek coastguard is overwhelmed, and thousands of migrants have moved north, hoping to find a home in wealthy EU countries such as Germany or Sweden.

The report is important because Germany has temporarily reintroduced border controls in its part of the passport-free Schengen area until May 13 after around one million people applied for asylum in Germany last year.

Beyond that date, Berlin has no legal means of maintaining ID checks.

However, if the EU’s executive commission rules Greece has demonstrated “serious deficiencies in carrying out external border control”, countries such as Germany, Austria and Sweden could possibly keep their border controls on for up to two years.

The report’s wording of “serious deficiencies” is a sign that this will happen in the near future.

EU nations would have to vote in favour of the move by around a two-thirds majority, but Greece alone could not stop them.

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