Greece: 16 migrants die as boat sinks in Aegean

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A smuggling boat sank Saturday off a Greek island, killing at least 16 migrants including children, and a search-and-rescue operation was underway to find two others believed missing.

The wooden boat was believed to have been carrying around 21 people when it sank for reasons that were not immediately clear off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Agathonisi, the Greek coast guard said. Three people — two women and one man — managed to swim to the island and alert authorities.

A massive search operation involving aircraft, the Greek navy and coast guard and a vessel from the European border agency Frontex was underway.

A coast guard spokeswoman said the recovered bodies had not been identified yet and they included six children.

Despite a two-year deal between the European Union and Turkey designed to stop migrants and refugees from pouring into Europe from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands, dozens and sometimes hundreds of people still make the journey each week. Most cross in rickety inflatable boats or other unseaworthy vessels.

The U.N. Refugee Agency released a statement saying it is “deeply saddened” at the sinking.

Also Saturday, demonstrators marched through central Athens protesting the EU-Turkey migrant deal, whose second anniversary falls today. About 2,000 protesters ended the march outside EU offices, decrying Europe’s closed borders, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkey’s military incursion into Syria.