Mediterranean Migrant Death Toll Hits Record Levels

Refugees arrive on the shores of the island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey

There is fear that 320 migrants and refugees have drowned off the Greek island of Crete last week alone in the deadliest toll on record. The International Organization for Migration reported the deadly incident on Tuesday.

The migrants who survived said that their boat set sail from Egypt with about 350 people aboard, said the Greek coastal authorities on Saturday. 340 people were rescued after the boat sank and nine bodies were recovered 75 nautical miles south of Crete.

IOM spokesman Joel Millman said that survivors interviewed by IOM said the vessel was carrying twice the reported number of passengers. In Augusta, Italy, those rescued said that there were 648 or 650 people, including women and children, on the ship. It is now feared that 320 people are still missing.

In 2016, there have already been 2,809 recorded deaths from a total of 206,400 migrant crossings in the Mediterranean, most of the victims were sub-Saharan Africans departing from North Africa, mainly Libya. Only 376 of the deaths occurred on the Aegean route from Turkey to Greece. Last year’s fatality tally was 1,838.