ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities said on Sunday they had rescued 108 immigrants of a sailboat that was found without a rudder and fleeing into the Aegean Sea in near gale force winds.
The rescued migrants – 63 men, 24 women and 21 children – told authorities four more people were missing.
Reports of a sailboat adrift off the uninhabited island of Delos reached the coastguard on Saturday evening. He dispatched three salvage vessels and a tug. Early Sunday morning, rescuers managed to tow the sailboat to an islet off the neighboring island of Mykonos, authorities said. The migrants were transported safely to Mykonos. They told authorities that their boat had left Turkey for an unknown destination.
None of the migrants on board were wearing life jackets and there was no lifesaving equipment on board, authorities said.
“Once again the Coastguard has saved lives that ruthless trafficking rings have put in mortal danger without even the strictest protective measures,” said Minister of Shipping and Island Policy , Ioannis Plakiotakis.
Late Sunday afternoon, a sailboat with 56 migrants – 28 men, 16 women and 12 women – ran aground in a cove on the island of Rhodes, authorities said. The migrants, who are all well, arrived alone on the shore.
In unrelated migration cases in neighboring North Macedonia, police said they discovered 71 migrants in two separate operations on Saturday night and arrested three men on suspicion of human trafficking.
Police raided a house in the northern city of Kumanovo and found 44 Pakistanis and one person from India. Police arrested the owner, a 41-year-old man identified only by his initials as UF. The migrants are said to have entered illegally from Greece and were waiting to be smuggled into Serbia en route to unidentified EU countries. They were transferred to a reception center for migrants on the border with Serbia pending deportation.
In another case, police discovered 26 migrants from Syria hiding in a van during a routine check at a highway toll booth in the south of the country. The van driver and his assistant, both Macedonian nationals, have been arrested, police said on Sunday.
The migrants were transferred to a reception center near the border with Greece pending deportation to that country.
According to police, the Balkan route for migrants, via North Macedonia, has become busier again in recent months after many countries lifted travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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