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Scores of migrants drown despite Greek rescue efforts

Greece has reported two sunken vessels off of its coast that have left at least 20 dead. As the Aegean Sea sees more drownings, the Greek prime minister has scolded Europe for its ineffective response.

The larger of the two boats sank overnight on Friday amid strong winds off of the island of Kalymnos. The Greece coast guard announced that at least 21 refugees - including nine children - drowned. Of the roughly 150 passengers, 138 were reported rescued.

The smaller vessel sank near Rhodes. Three migrants drowned, three remain missing, and six were rescued.

In response to Friday's drowning, Greece's prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, blamed Europe's "inept" handling of the refugee crisis and its lack of support for countries receiving the brunt of the migrant influx.

"The waves of the Aegean are not just washing up dead refugees, dead children, but the very civilization of Europe," Tsipras said. He cited Europe's intervention in the Middle East, based on "financial interest," as a cause for the exodus of migrants from the conflict-ridden region.

His words came a day after German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter

Steinmeier vistied Greece to pledge increased support.

Vessels on the Aegean Sea have been capsizing more frequently as worsened weather exacerbates choppy waves. On Wednesday, a boat was physically torn apart off of the island of Lesbos, killing as many as 16 of its 274 passengers.

Nonetheless, reaching Greece from Turkey remains a vital step on a perilous journey for the thousands of migrants fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East. The country has received more than 500,000 refugees this year alone, and is buckling under the demands of adequately receiving them.

News agency AFP reported on Friday that another migrant ship had capsized en route from Morocco to Spain. Spanish rescue teams announced that they have found the drowned bodies of four and are searching for another 35 missing.

jtm/kms (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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