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A boat carrying 50 migrants has sunk off Greece's western coast, possibly en route to Italy. The Greek coastguard said 21 were rescued alive. Twelve others were found dead as ships and helicopters searched the waters.
The sinking off Greece's Paxoi island group in the Ionian Sea on Saturday prompted a major search involving six patrol boats and three helicopters, said authorities.
The coastguard said someone on board had made an emergency phone call, saying the boat was taking on water.
Nearby passenger and freight ships were also involved in the search. In separate incidents on Friday and Saturday, 73 people were rescued, the coastguard added.
Circumventing 'Balkan route'
Almost every day, boats carrying migrants reportedly head from Greece's western coast to Italy as traffickers try to circumvent the blocked overland "Balkan route."
With Greece's northern borders closed, some migrants try to take mountain routes into Albania or risk clandestine sailings to Italy in their bids to reach western Europe.
Greek migrant camps have mostly been crammed beyond capacity since 2019, when Greece again became the main entry point into Europe.
More than 14,000 of 55,000 new arrivals last year came from Turkey, according to the UN refugee agency.
ipj/stb (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)