A police spokesman announced that “only one person was plucked out of the water and hospitalized while 11 bodies were found on a beach” near Mytilene on the island of Lesbos, reports Al Jazeera.
The nationality of the immigrants on the capsized boat was not disclosed. Coast guard officials have said that the migrants on the boat were attempting to illegally cross into Greece when the boat capsized. The sole known survivor, a 20-year-old man, told authorities that 28 people were on the boat, including the boat’s Turkish owner, at the time of the accident.
Reuters notes that the boat set off from Turkey and capsized just one mile off of the coast because of strong winds. A police official stated:
“The survivor told coast guard authorities that all the immigrants were from Iraq and had paid 2,000 dollars per head to be transported to the island.”
Thousands of illegal immigrants have attempted to cross the Aegean sea, along with land borders every year. The Greek Reporter notes that many of the immigrants who cross to Greece each year do so through Turkey. With Greece in its fifth year of a massive recession, illegal immigration has become a major issue in the national elections, which took place earlier this year.
A wall is currently being built along the Turkey-Greece border to prevent immigrants from traveling to Greece by land. Because of this, the immigrants are taking to the sea more often, using rickety boats that cannot withstand the number of people that are loaded onto them. Thousands of illegal immigrants have been rounded up in the country, though there are still thousands who try to sneak in via places like the island of Lesbos, to either make their way into Greece or use the country as a transit point to reach other countries.