Symbolic Greek migrant camp cleared as more die crossing Med

Athens (AFP) - The squalid Idomeni refugee camp in northern Greece which became a symbol of Europe's migrant crisis has been fully evacuated, police said Thursday, as another 30 died crossing the Mediterranean.

In the space of three days, police transferred about 4,000 migrants by bus from Idomeni to newly created camps in the industrial outskirts of Greece's second city Thessaloniki.

"We're done. No more people remain, just tents with supplies belonging to aid groups," a police source told AFP.

Idomeni camp had become a potent symbol of human suffering and chaos as Europe struggles with its worst migrant crisis since World War II.

The camp exploded in size after Balkan states began closing their borders in February to stem the human tide seeking new lives in northern Europe.

The last migrants from the crammed, muddy site were evacuated as up to 30 people were feared dead following a shipwreck off in the Mediterranean off Libya.

Photographs posted on social media showed migrants waving their arms for help as they balance perilously on the deck of the boat, already underwater but clearly visible.

"A Luxembourg reconnaissance plane spotted a capsized boat around 35 nautical miles off the Libyan coast with about 100 migrants in the water or clinging to the sinking vessel," Antonello de Renzis Sonnino, spokesman for the EU's military operation to combat people smugglers in the Mediterranean, told AFP.

The shipwreck followed a similar disaster Wednesday when a migrant boat overturned leaving five people dead, and another sinking on Tuesday which left a baby girl orphaned after both her parents died.

- 'Deplorable conditions' -

A bout of good weather as summer arrives has kicked off a fresh stream of boats attempting to cross from Libya to Italy.

The survivors will be added to the list of nearly 40,000 migrants to arrive in the country's southern ports so far this year.

Though authorities cleared out the camp at Idomeni it may not have solved the problem of what will become of its former residents.

Most of the 8,400 people at the camp when the police operation began on Tuesday refused to cooperate, police said.

"Most of them have gone outside gas stations and hotels nearby, or have walked to camps on their own," the officer said.

At its height, the camp housed more than 12,000 people, who spent a brutal winter in freezing rain and mud after Macedonia and other Balkan states closed their borders in mid-February to stem the influx to northern Europe.

Many tried to force their way across the border, sometimes resulting in violent encounters with Macedonian police.

Aid agencies initially welcomed the operation to clear Idomeni after complaints from local authorities over petty crime and the fear of infectious diseases.

But on Wednesday, the Save the Children charity was already reporting major problems at the new sites.

"When families arrived in the new camps yesterday, many with babies and young children, they were faced with deplorable conditions," the group's mission leader Amy Frost said in a statement, describing conditions as "inhumane".