Greece: 7 dead after migrant boat capsizes off Lesbos

Although the distance from Turkey is short, smugglers often use unseaworthy boats and pack them way beyond capacity, leading to many sinking or capsizing. (AFP)
Updated 11 June 2019

Greece: 7 dead after migrant boat capsizes off Lesbos

  • Greece’s coast guard said 57 people had been rescued, while seven people — two girls, four women and a man — were pulled from the water unconscious and later confirmed dead
  • A search and rescue operation in the area off the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos was called off after all those on board had been accounted for

ATHENS: A boat carrying dozens of migrants to a Greek island from the nearby Turkish coast capsized early Tuesday, leaving seven people dead, including two children.
Greece’s coast guard said 57 people had been rescued, while seven people — two girls, four women and a man — were pulled from the water unconscious and later confirmed dead.
A search and rescue operation in the area off the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos was called off after all those on board had been accounted for, the coast guard said. There were no further passengers reported missing.
It was not immediately clear why the boat capsized.
The number of people heading to the Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast has decreased significantly since the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, when thousands would arrive each day. But hundreds of people continue to make the treacherous journey.
Although the distance from Turkey is short, smugglers often use unseaworthy boats and pack them way beyond capacity, leading to many sinking or capsizing.
Under an agreement reached between Turkey and the European Union designed to stem migrant flows into Europe, those arriving on Greek islands from Turkey remain in camps on the island. They face possible deportation unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece.
The long and bureaucratic asylum application procedure has led to severe overcrowding and poor conditions in many of the camps.


Korea test-fires ‘super-large multiple rocket launcher'

Updated 25 August 2019

Korea test-fires ‘super-large multiple rocket launcher'

  • Kim likes testing missiles, says US president
  • Denuclearization talks in trouble

SEOUL: North Korea test-fired a new type of multiple rocket launch system late Saturday into the sea off its east coast, state media reported.

It was the seventh test in a month, as negotiations to scrap the North’s nuclear arsenal flounder.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Sunday that the latest weapons’ test was on a newly developed “super-large multiple rocket launcher.”

The country’s leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the test and called the device a “great weapon.”

North Korea must step up its development of strategic and tactical weapons to counter the “ever-mounting military threats and pressure offensive of hostile forces,” KCNA reported Kim as saying while he oversaw the testing.

One of the short-range weapons has been identified as a KN-23, a mobile short-range ballistic missile based on the technology of Russia’s Iskander missile, which could hit targets across the South after evading missile interceptors operated by South Korea’s military. Pyongyang maintains that joint South Korea-US military drills are a provocation.

South Korea officials urged the North to stop hostile acts.

“We express strong concern that the North continues to test-fire short-range projectiles despite the South Korea-US military drills ending,” a presidential spokesman told reporters on Saturday. “We urge the North to halt such hostile acts that raise military tensions.”

Despite worries about the North’s provocations that could harm the security of South Korea where 28,500 US armed forces personnel are stationed, US President Donald Trump again touted his friendship with Kim.

“Kim Jong-un has been pretty straight with me, I think, and we’re going to see what’s going on, we’re going to see what’s happening,” he told reporters in Washington before heading to the G-7 summit in France on Friday night. “He likes testing missiles, but we never restricted short-range missiles.”

Trump and Kim held a surprise meeting in the Demilitarized Zone in June and agreed to resume working-level denuclearization negotiations within a month, but such a meeting has yet to be held.

In a further sign that nuclear disarmament talks are barely holding together, the North blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for complicating the talks, calling him a “diehard toxin.”

“He is truly impudent enough to utter such thoughtless words which only leave us disappointed and skeptical as to where we can solve any problem with such a guy,” North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said on Friday in a statement carried by KCNA, referring to Pompeo’s recent remarks in which he said sanctions would be kept until the North took concrete steps to bin nuclear weapons.

US Special Representative Stephen Biegun for North Korea was in Seoul last week to discuss ways to get negotiations back on track but it is not clear if he contacted his North Korean counterpart.

Biegun’s efforts were overshadowed by South Korea’s surprising decision to sever military ties with Japan. 

On Thursday, the presidential Blue House announced it would pull out of an intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, a key pillar of the US-led trilateral alliance in East Asia to check the influence of China and Russia.

The intelligence pact, called the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), has benefited South Korea’s military to collect key information on North Korean nuclear and missile activities, as Japan operates seven spy satellites while South Korea has no such strategic assets.

The decision to end GSOMIA came amid escalating trade disputes over Japan’s restriction of exporting chip-making materials to South Korea following disputes arising from Japanese colonial rule.