Greece rescues hundreds of migrants in sinking off Crete
Hundreds of migrants were rescued from a sinking ship off the island of Crete in the southern Mediterranean on Friday, the Greek coastguard said.
It was impossible to speculate how many people might be unaccounted for, the coastguard said. State broadcaster ERT carried unsourced accounts the vessel was carrying anything between 500 and 700 people.
The death toll in the southern Mediterranean has mounted in recent weeks by migrants attempting sea crossings from North Africa to Europe this year. More than 2,000 people have died.
Greek authorities said 340 people were rescued, but nine bodies were also recovered in a location about 75 nautical miles off southern Crete, in territory which falls under Egypt’s search and rescue jurisdiction.
There was no immediate official word on how many people may be missing and Greek coastguard officials declined to speculate. It was not immediately clear where the boat had sailed from.
“From some scattered accounts we have heard (from those rescued) they set off from the African coastline,” coastguard spokesman Nikos Lagkadianos said.
Merchant ships sailing in the area assisted in the operation, with about 242 people rescued taken to Italy and others to Egypt, Turkey and Malta, the coastguard said.
Hundreds of thousands of mainly Syrian refugees crossed the short but precarious sea corridor to Greece from Turkey last year in small inflatable boats, but that route was effectively sealed after an EU-Turkey clampdown in March.
Now, warm weather and calmer seas in the Mediterranean have led to a surge in recent weeks in the number of people trying to cross to Italy from Libya, where people-smugglers operate with relative impunity.
You may be interested
Syros: Greek tradition & western influence come to a harmonious marriagePanos - Oct 20, 2017
Ermoúpoli (meaning “the city of Hermes”) is the island’s capital town and has been the first important trade and industrial…
Environment may have partially led to the fall of Queen Cleopatra, research suggestsPanos - Oct 20, 2017
Environmental records and historic documents suggest a volcanic eruption could have aided the Romans in victory According to a report…
Greek astronomer in Germany discovers spindle-like galaxiesPanos - Oct 20, 2017
Athanasia Tatsi is another Greek scientist at the forefront of global scientific research this time in the field of Astronomy.…