At least 16 people drowned, including three women and a baby, when their boat overturned off the Greek island of Paros, in the third maritime migrant tragedy in the Aegean this week.
The Greek coastguard rescued 63 (sixty one men and two women) out of 80 people on the vessel and they were safely taken to Paros.
According to the Greek coastguard, the boat set off from Turkey and was headed for Italy.
Authorities scrambled a search and rescue operation overnight northwest of Paros. Air and sea assets were deployed to the area, the coastguard said.
The gangs “are indifferent to human life, stacking dozens of people, without lifejackets, in vessels which do not conform to the most basic of safety standards,” he said in a written statement.
Earlier Friday, Greek authorities said they had recovered 11 bodies from the scene of another shipwreck, when a sailboat carrying migrants sank off an uninhabited islet in southern Greece on Thursday.
Another 90 people were rescued in that operation. The coastguard said initial information suggested those migrants had also been heading for Italy.
On Wednesday, a boat thought to be carrying more than 50 people sank off the island of Folegandros, with dozens feared missing.
Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union for migrants and refugees from Africa, the Middle East and beyond, though the flow has tapered off since 2015-2016, when more than a million people traversed the country to other EU states.