Greece rescues hundreds as migrant boat capsizes in Mediterranean

Athens Published: Jun 03, 2016, 10:44 AM(IST)

Syrian refugees walk past life vests after arriving on the beach, crossing the sea from Turkey to Lesbos, some 5 kilometres south of the capital of the Island, Mytelene on March 9, 2016 in Mytelene, Greece. Photograph:( Getty )

Greek rescue teams rescued hundreds of migrants from a sinking ship in a massive operation in the southern Mediterranean off the island of Crete today, the Greek coastguard said. Three bodies have been recovered so far. 

The search and rescue teams were dispatched to the area, about 75 nautical miles off southern Crete in the territory which falls under Egypt's jurisdiction.

In total, 302 people were rescued by mid-morning, Greek authorities said. There was no immediate information on the nationalities of the migrants or on the victims.

Greek media said the wooden boat the migrants were sailing in started taking in water. It was not immediately clear where the boat had sailed from.

Hundreds of thousands of mainly Syrian refugees crossed the sea corridor from Turkey to Greece last year in small inflatable boats, but that route was effectively sealed after an EU-Turkey clampdown of illegal migration out of Turkey in March.

Now, warm weather and calmer seas in the Mediterranean have led to a surge in the number of people trying to go to Italy from Libya, where people-smugglers operate with relative impunity.

Boats on journey like this risk being blown off course to islands like Crete. Friday's incident was the third in a week involving migrant landings on the island.

Read in App