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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Tragedy in the Ionian Sea: Hundreds of Migrants Presumed Dead as World Watches Lost Submersible Drama

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Editor-in-chief of The International Telegraph

While the world was watching the unfolding drama of the Titan submersible lost off the coast of Newfoundland, on June 14 another catastrophe was unfolding in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece at the same time, albeit of a completely different nature, but with an even greater human cost.

The vessel, known as the Andriana, had departed from Tobruk, a city in Cyrenaica, Libya, on June 10, carrying an excessive number of passengers — estimates range from 400 to as many as 750. The boat was significantly beyond its capacity, a fact that would later contribute to its tragic sinking​​.

This undated handout image provided by Greece’s coast guard on Wednesday, June14, 2023, shows scores of people covering practically every free stretch of deck on a battered fishing boat that later capsized and sank off southern Greece. A fishing boat carrying migrants trying to reach Europe capsized and sank off Greece on Wednesday, authorities said, leaving at least 79 dead and many more missing in one of the worst disasters of its kind this year.(Hellenic Coast Guard)

The migrants on board, desperate for a better life in Europe, hailed from a number of countries including Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Palestine. They were part of an ongoing wave of people fleeing economic hardship and political instability, hoping to find a better future on European shores.

Tragically, their journey ended 50 miles off the coast of Pylos, Messenia, Greece, when the overloaded Andriana sank in the early hours of June 14. Greek authorities, (alerted by the Italian coast guard and the European Union border protection agency, Frontex), chose not to assist and failed to launch a rescue operation.

Shortly before 3 a.m., a $175-million yacht owned by the family of a Mexican silver magnate arrived on scene. While the superyacht “Mayan Queen IV” managed to rescue 104 survivors and recover 82 bodies, up to 500 people remain missing and are now presumed dead.​1​.

This disaster underscores the deadly risks faced by migrants and refugees taking to the sea in overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels. The route from North Africa to Italy has been dubbed the deadliest on Earth by the International Organization for Migration, which has recorded a staggering 21,000 deaths since 2014​.

UN officials have called for a probe into Greece’s response to the disaster amid claims more action should have been taken, and much earlier. (BBC)

Yet, as the world’s media covered every twist and turn of the Titan submersible incident, the sinking of the Andriana and the loss of hundreds of lives was relegated to the sidelines. The public’s attention seemed riveted more on the fate of a few wealthy individuals aboard the Titan than the hundreds of less fortunate souls who perished in the Ionian Sea.

This raises pressing questions about the world’s priorities and how we value human life. It is a stark reminder that in our increasingly global society, the lives of the poor and the desperate are often overlooked in favor of the wealthy and the privileged. As the search for survivors of the Titan continues, let us also remember the hundreds of lives lost in the Ionian Sea, and the desperate circumstances that led them to risk their lives on such a perilous journey.

We will continue to report on this story, as the investigation into the sinking of the Andriana unfolds, and as the world grapples with the profound and troubling questions this tragedy raises about the value we place on human life.

This is a developing story. More updates to follow.

SourceNBC News
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