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At least 16 people were killed in a Greek shipwreck

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Authorities organized a search and rescue operation overnight in northwest Paros. Air and sea assets were deployed in the area, the Coast Guard said.

Greece is one of the main access routes to the European Union for migrants and refugees from Africa, the Middle East and beyond, although the flow has been declining since 2015-2016, when more than one one million people crossed the country to other EU states.

The semi-official Athens news agency said the bodies of 12 men, three women and a child in the area were recovered.

It was believed that the boat was carrying about 80 people, who according to the Coast Guard were believed to be heading for Italy from Turkey.

The circumstances in which the ship capsized were unclear.

Greek Minister of Shipping Giannis Plakiotakis said gangs of traffickers were responsible for the disasters.

The gangs “are indifferent to human life, piling up dozens of people, without life jackets, on ships that do not meet the most basic safety standards,” it said in a written statement.

Earlier on Friday, Greek authorities said they had recovered 11 bodies from the site of another shipwreck, when a sailboat carrying migrants sank on Thursday on an uninhabited islet in southern Greece.

Another 90 people were rescued in this operation. The Coast Guard said initial reports suggested the migrants had also left for Italy.

During the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, a ship thought to be carrying up to 50 migrants sank off the island of Folegandros, with dozens missing.

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