BEIRUT: Having faced widespread criticism over its dealings with a migrant boat that capsized earlier this month, Greece has now been accused of not responding to an offer to send a plane to monitor the vessel.
Eighty-two people were officially confirmed dead in the incident last week, but the UN said it is likely as many as 500 may have drowned.
On Saturday, the BBC quoted the EU border agency Frontex as saying the migrant boat had been spotted by one of its planes “hardly moving in the hours before it capsized,” which contradicts Greece’s claim that the vessel was on a “safe and steady course.”
According to the report, Frontex offered to send a plane to monitor the vessel, but received no reply from Greek authorities.
The overcrowded boat is believed to have set sail from Libya. It was detected for the first time in the early hours of June 13 heading toward Greece.
The Greek authorities said that the boat’s crew told coast guards that the vessel was heading to Italy, and asked to be left alone. The authorities deny not acting swiftly enough to avoid the tragedy, but have not commented on Frontex’s claim about its offer of aerial assistance.
Having analyzed the passage of other vessels on that day, the BBC claimed in its report that the migrants’ boat had barely moved for almost seven hours before capsizing around 80 kilometers away from Pylos, a coastal town in Greece.
More than 100 people are said to have been rescued, but according to survivors there were more than 700 on board, including around 100 children.
Pakistan’s interior minister has said that more than 350 Pakistanis were onboard. Media reports have claimed that there were Egyptian and Syrian passengers as well.
Source: Arab News