Greece: 2 dead, 30 missing as migrant boats sink

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A crane lifts a yacht after two boats carrying migrants capsized, at Malagari port on Samos Island, Greece, 05 May 2014. At least 18 people were confirmed drowned and as many as a dozen still missing after two vessels loaded with migrants trying to enter Greece sank off the eastern Aegean island of Samos, coast guard officials said. (EPA/STELIOS DEMERTZIS)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — At least two people drowned and about 30 are missing after two boats crammed with immigrants bound for Greece sank in the eastern Aegean Sea before dawn Monday in the third fatal accident of the sort this year, authorities said.

The vessels with immigrants seeking to enter Greece illegally foundered about 4 miles north of the island of Samos near the Turkish coast, the Greek coast guard said. It said 36 people were rescued from the sea.

According to survivors, up to 65 people were on the two vessels, the coast guard said.

It said the circumstances of the twin sinking were unclear as weather conditions in the area were not severe.

Coast guard vessels, fishing boats and two search and rescue helicopters were combing the area for more survivors. A cruise ship that participated for several hours in the operation was later cleared to continue its journey.

The nationalities of the migrants were unknown.

Greece is a major entry point for people from poor or war-torn parts of Asia and Africa seeking a better life in the European Union. Fatal accidents are frequent as migrants risk the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey.

Another 21 people have drowned in two accidents since the beginning of the year. Over the weekend Greek coastguards rescued about 250 immigrants from the sea.