Nearly 100 migrants rescued off Greek coast

Yacht carrying 93 people came into difficulty near the small Greek town of Pylos

epa09131067 Members of the Turkish Coast Guard give a warning to a Greece Coast Guard ship, which allegedly crossed into Turkish waters, during a patrol to search and rescue for migrants as they pass to or pushed back from Lesvos Island of Greece offshore the Ayvalik district in Balikesir, Turkey, 10 April 2021 (issued 12 April 2012). The Greek island of Lesbos hosts one of the hotspots, an initial reception centers for migrants in European Union. Turkish authorities told epa/Efe that in 2020 around 45 percent of migrants rescued in the Aegean Sea had been pushed back from Greek territory. Most common cases involve migrant vessels being stopped by a Greek patrol when entering Greek waters, but the Turkish coastguard says it has heard lots of migrants describing 'delayed pushback,' when people are returned to the sea days after they reached Lesbos. According to Turkish officials, in this case, a Greek patrol carries the detained migrants to the limit of Greek territorial waters before putting them in a life raft and alerting Ankara.  Since the beginning of 2021, Turkey has rescued around 2,700 migrants in the Aegean Sea, and some 1,900 migrants from a pushback.  The Norwegian NGO Aegean Boat Report claims, some 558 people have been abandoned on 35 life rafts at sea so far in 2021. Some such incidents have ended with fatalities, the organizations claimed.  EPA/ERDEM SAHIN  ATTENTION: This Image is part of a PHOTO SET
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About 100 migrants were rescued from a yacht reported to be in difficulty off the south-western coast of Greece on Wednesday, authorities said.

The yacht carrying 93 people was located about 40 nautical miles west of the small town of Pylos, the coastguard said in a statement.

There were no reports of missing passengers.

Six of the passengers were picked up by another yacht in the area and taken to Pylos, where one woman was transferred to hospital in the southern city of Kalamata.

Another 87 people were picked up by two passing tanker ships and transported to Kalamata, escorted by coastguard patrol vessels, the statement said.

The area is near where a deadly migrant shipwreck in June left hundreds of people dead and missing and led to allegations that Greek authorities had failed to respond appropriately to rescue the passengers.

The overcrowded trawler had set sail from Libya with an estimated 500-700 people on board.

Only 104 survived and 82 bodies were recovered.

The rest sank with the trawler in what is one of the deepest parts of the Mediterranean.

About 100 migrants rescued after Greece shipwreck – in pictures

Last week, 40 survivors filed a lawsuit in Greece against “all parties responsible”, saying Greek authorities failed to rescue passengers before the vessel capsized.

Many of the survivors dispute the official account that repeated offers of assistance by the coastguard were rejected, and claim a botched effort was made to tow the vessel to safety shortly before it capsized and sank.

Greece lies on a route used by smugglers to ferry people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia into the EU.

Many use small dinghies to head from Turkey to Greek islands near the Turkish coast, while others use larger sailing boats, yachts or fishing vessels to make the longer crossing from either Turkey or North Africa to Italy, bypassing Greece.

The Greek coastguard said that a total of 115 migrants were rescued from three small boats off the eastern Aegean Sea island of Lesbos on Wednesday, and another 24 people off the island of Samos.

Updated: September 20, 2023, 10:07 PM