Home » Greece launches rescue operation for hundreds of migrants near Crete

Greece launches rescue operation for hundreds of migrants near Crete

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Greek authorities have launched a major rescue operation off the coast of Crete for hundreds of suspected migrants.

Passengers on a crowded boat had made a distress call late on Monday, the Greek coast guard said.

The vessel had reportedly lost steering and was drifting in rough seas with up to 500 people on board, it added.

A Greek navy frigate, two Italian fishing vessels, a tanker, and two cargo ships were participating in the rescue operation.

Strong winds and rough seas have made it impossible to transfer any of the passengers from the stricken vessel by the morning, the coast guard said.

But authorities later stated that the boat had been towed to the port of Palaiochora and had docked. There were no immediate reports of any injuries or missing people.

Tens of thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa try to make their way into the European Union each year.

Due to increased patrols by the Greek coastguard and EU border agency Frontex, migrant smugglers are now taking a longer and more perilous route south of Crete.

In 2022, more than 1,800 people have gone missing in the Mediterranean on their way to Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Earlier this month, at least 23 people died when two migrant vessels sank near the Greek islands of Samos and Evia.

The Greek coastguard says it has rescued around 1,500 people in the first eight months of 2022, compared with fewer than 600 last year.

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