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Greece: More than 600 people died in migrant boat accidents




More than 600 people died last month when a migrant boat, the Adriana, sank in the Mediterranean. A Times investigation drawing on satellite imagery, radio signals, sealed court documents and more than 20 interviews with survivors and officials found that hundreds of those deaths could have been prevented.

Survivors said that passengers had called for help and that some had tried to jump aboard a tanker that had stopped to give out drinking water. These accounts are at odds with assertions by the Greek authorities, who have said that the migrants did not want to be rescued. As passengers panicked and the ship sank, the Greek government treated the situation like a law enforcement operation, not a rescue.

The Greek authorities have repeatedly said that the Adriana was sailing to Italy — contradicting the evidence that shows definitively that the vessel was drifting in a loop for its last six and a half hours.

The passengers collectively paid as much as $3.5 million to be smuggled to Italy. Survivors said Pakistanis were at the bottom of the ship; women and children were in the middle; and Syrians, Palestinians and Egyptians were at the top. Out of 350 passengers from Pakistan seeking a better life, only 12 survived. The women and young children went down with the ship.

The E.U. authorities often postpone rescues out of fear that helping will embolden smugglers to send more people on ever-flimsier ships. As European politics have swung to the right, each new arriving ship is a potential political flashpoint.

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