In Greece, more than four hundred migrants rescued off Crete

A boat with hundreds of migrants on board, which had launched a distress signal at sea on the night of Monday November 21 to Tuesday November 22, docked in a port on the Greek island of Crete. These persons “have been towed to the port, they have not yet disembarked”announced to Agence France-Presse a spokesperson for the Greek coast guard.

According to the public channel ERT, four hundred and thirty people were on board, before the boat was towed by a fishing boat to the port of Paleochora, in western Crete. A spokeswoman for the coast guard simply mentioned between “four hundred and five hundred people”. No indication was provided of their nationality. The images from the ERT channel essentially showed men on the deck of an obviously dilapidated and rusty boat.

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The coastguard had been alerted by a distress call shortly after midnight as strong winds blew over this area in the far south-west of Crete, Greece’s largest island. Two cargo ships, an oil tanker and two Italian fishing boats were nearby to provide assistance, they said.

A longer and more perilous road

Due to increased patrols by the Greek Coast Guard and the European border surveillance agency Frontex in the eastern Aegean, migrant smugglers now take a longer and more perilous route south of Crete to enter the European Union.

“Eighty percent of Turkey’s flows go directly to Italy”Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi told private channel Skai TV last week.

On October 11, at least thirty people died in two shipwrecks off the islands of Lesbos and Kythera. During this last shipwreck, which had killed at least eight people, dozens of survivors, mainly from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, stranded at the foot of a cliff had been hoisted with a winch by the rescuers.

In early November, more than twenty-one people died and dozens were missing in two simultaneous shipwrecks off the islands of Samos and Euboea.

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