ATHENS: Greece’s coastguard on Tuesday was rescuing a fishing boat with up to 500 migrants onboard in strong winds southwest of Crete, a spokeswoman told AFP.
“The distress call said there are 400-500 people on board,” a coastguard spokeswoman told AFP, adding that the operation was hampered by near gale-force winds.
“They can see the boat, it’s adrift, there is a large number of people on board,” she added.
The coastguard said it had received the distress call shortly after midnight on Monday. Two nearby cargo ships, a tanker and two Italian fishing boats were lending assistance, it said.
Because of bolstered patrols by the Greek coastguard and EU border agency
, migrant smugglers are increasingly employing the longer and more perilous route south of Crete, Greek officials say.
“Eighty percent of flows from Turkey go straight to Italy,” Migration Minister