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Migrants rescued from grounded boat as baby dies in dinghy sinking

Published 09/10/2015

Refugees shelter from the morning cold in the port of Mitylene on the north-east Greek island of Lesbos (AP)
Refugees shelter from the morning cold in the port of Mitylene on the north-east Greek island of Lesbos (AP)

A wooden boat carrying a large number of refugees or other migrants has run aground on the small eastern Aegean island of Leros, Greece's coastguard said.

And an infant died after the inflatable dinghy he was in partially sank off the coast of Lesbos island.

The wooden boat, carrying about 100 people, ran aground on the north-east coast of Leros, the coast guard said. Those on board were being taken to shore by coastguard and private vessels that arrived to help.

In the Lesbos incident, the coastguard rescued 56 people from the sea after the rear part of their dinghy burst, partially sinking the boat. A one-year-old boy was recovered unconscious and taken to hospital, but rescuers were unable to revive him.

Greece's coastguard said it rescued 542 people in 12 search and rescue incidents between Thursday morning and Friday morning.

The rescues occurred off the coasts of the eastern Aegean islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Agathonissi and Farmakonissi, the coastguard said.

Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in their homelands have reached Greece so far this year, the vast majority on rickety boats or cheap inflatable dinghies from the nearby Turkish coast. Although a short sea journey, it can be fatal as the unseaworthy and overloaded boats sometimes sink.

Very few of those arriving in Greece want to stay in the financially stricken country, instead moving north through the Balkans to more prosperous European Union countries such as Germany, Austria and Sweden.

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