A Syrian young man, who survived a boat sinking that killed at least 78 people, was reunited with his older brother on Friday, but there was no news of other relatives who had gathered in the southern Greek city of Kalamata to search for their loved ones.
Witness accounts indicate that between 400 and 750 people were crammed onto the 20-30-meter fishing boat that capsized and sank early Wednesday morning about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the southern Greek coastal town of Pylos.
Greek authorities brought 104 survivors and the bodies of 78 drowned people ashore in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, but have not found anyone else since.
Intensive search and rescue operations continued on Friday, but hopes were fading that other survivors would be found among the hundreds of people believed to have been on board when the boat sank in one of the deepest parts of the Mediterranean.
The Syrian Muhammad, 18, who survived the drowning, cried when he saw his older brother Fadi, who had traveled from the Netherlands in search of him.
The two wept and hugged through metal barriers erected by Greek police around a warehouse where survivors have been sleeping for two days in Kalamata.
“Thank God for your safety,” Fadi said, kissing his younger brother’s head repeatedly.
About 25 relatives of those on the boat gathered outside the warehouse, hoping for news, and looking at pictures of their loved ones on mobile phones.
Each immigrant paid $4,500
The ancient fishing boat is believed to have left Egypt and then picked up passengers from the Libyan port city of Tobruk on June 10. The survivors who spoke to the Greek authorities said they each paid $4,500 to travel to Italy.
The circumstances of the boat’s sinking while being closely watched by the Greek Coast Guard are still unclear.
Greek authorities, who monitored the boat for 15 hours before it sank after receiving an alert from Rome the day before, say its passengers have repeatedly refused help, saying they want to go to Italy.
Nine people, most of them from Egypt, were arrested on Thursday evening in connection with the boat sinking. Authorities said they face charges of negligent manslaughter, endangering life, causing a boat to sink, and human trafficking.
The survivors were taken by bus to a migrant camp in Malakassa, near Athens, on Friday.
Under a conservative government that remained in power in Greece until last month, the country has taken a tougher stance on immigration, setting up camps surrounded by
Fences and reinforced border control.
The country is currently run by a caretaker government until elections are held on June 25.
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