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Greece’s Deadly Waters: 403 Die in 2023 in Seas, Lakes, Rivers, Pools

ATHENS – It doesn’t include more than 500 refugees and migrants drowned when a fishing boat they were on capsized in international waters near Greece, but death in water-related activities still takes a heavy toll in Greece on a consistent basis.

In 2023 the total was 407, including 260 who drowned, 25 due to pathological causes, one in an accident and 114 for whom the exact causes still haven’t been determined, said a report by the Safe Water Sports organization.

Of the 407 fatalities, 400 people lost their lives at sea and the rest in activities in internal waters bodies like lakes, rivers and pools, a 4 percent increase since 2022 when 379 people lost their lives.

The age breakdown showed the elderly were most at risk by a large margin, accounting for 331 deaths, while 59 were between 18-59 and five were underage and the age of five victims wasn’t established.

Of the fatalities at sea, 272 (68%) were Greek and 124 were foreigners. The nationality of the remaining four was not established. Fatalities at beaches were most likely to occur between noon and 1 p.m., with 14 percent of the total.

Just over half (56%) of fatal accidents took place on beaches with no lifeguard coverage, which is the case at most beaches in Greece where swimmers are on their own and have to rely on friends or family swimming with them.

The municipality of Thermaikos, south of Thessaloniki, recorded the most fatal accidents (15 deaths), followed by Thassos (14), Varis-Voulas-Vouliagmenis (near Athens, (13), Rhodes (12), Kos (12) and Halkida (11).

‘Far more commonly though, men, women and children drown silently and alone across a range of situations: jumping unsupervised into an unfenced backyard swimming pool, for example; or caught in a beach rip current that swimming skills alone can’t free them from; sailing or paddleboarding without the protection of a life jacket; falling into water while walking home alone. The variations are endless,” said World Health Organization Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge.

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