Drownings rise in the Greek Islands
Dabs Banner: August 2014
Greece has worst record in Europe for sea safety.
With a record number of holidaymakers heading for Greek Island beaches this summer it is worth noting that Greece has the worst record in Europe for sea drownings.
And 2014 is worse than ever with a record number of drownings reported in the high holiday season months of June and July. According to figures from the Greek Coast Guard a total of 150 people drowned in Greek seas in the two month period compared to 101 deaths in the same period last year.
Another 26 have lost their lives in the first two weeks of August taking the total number so far this season to 176, which may make this one of the worst seasons ever for accidental drowning off Greek Island beaches.
Figures have been affected by the number of migrants accidentally drowned as that head into Greek waters illegally by boat.
There has been a worrying increase in the number of such incident this year with the UN urging Greece to investigate the deaths of migrants at sea.
With so many tourists heading for the summer beaches it is hardly surprising that drowning incidents should be high but the numbers are worrying for Greek tourism officials trying to promote holidays in Greece.
The poor record on sea drownings comes despite Greece ranked second in Europe for the number of Blue Flag beaches which can only achieve the prestigious flag for having clean water, a good safety record and lifeguards on duty.
But Greece has the highest number of drownings in Europe and ranks second in the world relative to its population, with roughly 400 deaths by drowning every year.
The Greek Life Guard Academy has emphasised the high risk to young children who enter the water without proper parental oversight.
Older children are also a particular risk, especially boys aged between 10 and 15 years old, who are prone to act recklessly in the sea and invite accidents.
The ages most at risk from drowning were very young children and the elderly, who tended to drown as a result of heart attacks.
Drowning is now the second highest cause of death after road accidents each summer in Greece but there is still a shortage of life guards on beaches despite this being a well-paid seasonal job.