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Greece says six migrants found dead off Lesbos

Published: Updated:

Greek authorities said Tuesday the bodies of six people believed to be possible migrants have been found off the island of Lesbos, at a time when Athens stands accused of rights abuses against irregular arrivals.

The Greek coastguard said four bodies were found on the coast near the port of Mytilene and two others were taken from the water.

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The bodies of three men and three women were transferred to a Lesbos hospital for an autopsy, the coastguard added, after three police patrol boats and a helicopter took part in the search.

The deceased were “foreigners,” the coastguard said, and a search was still ongoing for other possible victims and their vessel.

Lesbos, an Aegean Sea island near Turkey’s west coast, is a frequent transit zone for migrants travelling to western Europe from Asia and the Middle East.

Supported by the European Union’s border agency Frontex, Greece has tightened checks and limited the arrivals of migrants on its Aegean islands in recent years.

The head of the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR last month voiced concern about reports that Greece was involved in nearly 540 incidents of informal returns of migrants at its land and sea borders with Turkey since 2020.

The Greek government has always denied carrying out illegal pushbacks of migrants.

Almost one million people passed through Greece’s islands to reach western Europe at the height of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015.

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