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A 360 view of Lesvos' refugee life jacket graveyard

Hundreds of thousands of refugees made the dangerous journey to Europe through Greece. Their discarded life vests puts their desperation in perspective.

This is part of our Road Trip 2016 summer series "Life, Disrupted," about how technology is helping with the global refugee crisis -- if at all.

This past June, I went to Greece for CNET's special report on tech and the Europe refugee crisis. Along with reporters Ben Fox Rubin and Richard Nieva, I traveled to Athens, to northern Greece near the Macedonian border and to the Greek island of Lesvos, about 18 miles from Turkey across the Mytilini Strait.

Last year alone, more than 800,000 refugees and migrants fled to Europe through Greece. More than half a million of them entered the country through Lesvos after crowding onto practically anything that sailed. And thousands still remain on the island, stuck in refugee camps because cash-strapped Greece can't cope with the numbers. For many Europeans, Lesvos represents ground zero of the humanitarian crisis.

It's why my colleagues and I came here. And it's why I wanted to explore Lesvos' northern coast where most people came ashore.

I was in search of things left behind. I had pictured a shoreline littered with rafts, lifejackets and personal belongings. But the trash was mostly gone, picked up by volunteers from Lighthouse Relief who provide everything from emergency rescue and relief to cleanup operations.


Still, we'd heard locals talk about the "life jacket memorial," also called the "life jacket graveyard" or the "mountain of misery." This became my new destination, although tracking it down was an adventure in its own right.

We eventually found it in an empty field that looked out across the water to Turkey: piles of bright orange life jackets, torn rubber rafts, children's floaty devices, shoes and heat blankets. It's impossible to show the sheer size and volume of the place.

There's no one in this 360 view, but I felt the presence of thousands.

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