Greece Rescues Hundreds Of Migrants In Sinking Off Crete

Greece Rescues Hundreds Of Migrants In Sinking Off Crete

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said 700 people were believed to have been on board a boat that sunk off the coast of Crete on Friday (June 3) warning many could still be in the water after hundreds of migrants were rescued in a massive operation in the southern Mediterranean, the Greek coastguard said, but four bodies were also recovered.

Greek search and rescue teams were dispatched to the area, about 75 nautical miles off southern Crete in territory which falls under Egypt's jurisdiction.

In total, 340 people were rescued by midday, Greek authorities said. There was no immediate information on the nationalities of the migrants or on the victims.

Greek media said the wooden boat the migrants were sailing in started taking in water. It was not immediately clear where the boat had sailed from but IOM spokesman, Joel Millman said the boat may have left from Alexandria in Egypt.

Now, warm weather and calmer seas in the Mediterranean have led to a surge in recent weeks in the number of people trying to cross to Italy from Libya, where people-smugglers operate with relative impunity.

Boats on this much longer journey risk being blown off course to islands such as Crete. Friday's incident was the third in a week involving migrant rescues or landings on the island.