Greece Probes Reports of Negligence in Migrant Tragedy



Shipping minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis visits survivors at a Samos hospital . Photo courtesy of Der Spiegel

Greece is investigating reports that the authorities may be guilty of negligence in the case of the sinking of a migrant boat off the island of Agathonisi that claimed the lives of 16 people, including seven children, on March 16.

Visiting survivors of the shipwreck at a hospital in Samos, Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis said that his office is looking into reports of negligence and said the guilty would be punished.

This follows a report by the German magazine, Der Spiegel, which claims Greek police and coast guards delayed launching a search-and-rescue operation for almost 24 hours.

The magazine claims that a relative of those on board, who arrived on the Greek island of Samos a few weeks earlier, was alerted through WhatsApp that the boat was in trouble and immediate assistance was required.

He called the Greek police and the coast guard to alert them to the danger, but, according to Der Spiegel, no action was taken.

Kouroumblis confirmed that a phone call requesting help was received by the coast guard, but repeated attempts to locate the caller failed.

Der Spiegel claims that the rescue operation begun only when a resident of Agathonisi came across three survivors, who had managed to swim to the coast.