ATHENS (HPD) — A sailing ship with dozens of migrants on board that had sent out a distress signal amid a storm off the southern tip of mainland Greece has been safely towed to port, the Greek coast guard said Friday. No injuries or missing persons were reported.
Authorities launched a wide-ranging search and rescue operation after the ship issued the warning while sailing about 3 nautical miles (5.5 kilometers, 3.4 miles) south of Cape Maleas in the southern Peloponnese region. the coast guard explained.
The boat was towed to a nearby port early Friday morning, where it was found to have 75 people — 69 men and six women — on board. The authorities did not immediately have information about the nationality of the passengers, the place from which she had departed or what her destination was.
Every year, thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa, Asia and the Middle East try to enter the European Union through Greece.
Most make their way to the eastern Greek islands from the nearby coast of Turkey in small plastic boats, but more and more migrants are opting for larger boats such as sailboats and yachts, sometimes trying to bypass Greece and They are headed straight to Italy. Both routes can be lethal.
Earlier this month, at least 27 people drowned in two shipwrecks of migrant boats in Greek waters.
In one such incident, 18 people lost their lives when the boat in which they set sail from Turkey sank off the island of Lesbos in the eastern Aegean Sea. Hours earlier, a yacht with some 100 migrants on board capsized in a gale, leaving at least nine dead and another six missing.