Monday 23 September 2019

78 migrants rescued from stranded wooden boat off Greece

Refugees and migrants on a heavily listing boat travelling to Greece from the Turkish coast. (AP)
Refugees and migrants on a heavily listing boat travelling to Greece from the Turkish coast. (AP)

A Greek patrol boat has rescued 78 people on a wooden boat that ran aground off the eastern Aegean island of Kos after sailing from nearby Turkey.

The boat hit sandy shallows near the northern coast of Kos on Thursday, and those on board were picked up by a coast guard vessel and transported to the island's harbour.

No injuries were reported among the passengers.

A further 293 people were rescued from five inflatable dinghies and a wooden boat overnight and Thursday morning near Lesbos, the island where the majority of refugee arrivals occur.

In a separate incident, the coast guard arrested two suspected smugglers heading back towards Turkey from Lesbos in an inflatable dinghy.

More than 600,000 people have reached Greece so far this year, with hundreds dying when their overloaded boats have sunk or capsized during the short but dangerous crossing from Turkey.

Meanwhile Greek police said they came under fire on the country's north-eastern border with Turkey during the arrest of two suspected migrant-smugglers who had just ferried 22 people across the Evros river that runs along the border.

Police said late on Wednesday that a border patrol intercepted two inflatable dinghies that had been rowed across the river from the Turkish side late on Tuesday night with 24 people on board, including seven children. All were Syrians except for one Iraqi.

The patrol arrested two Syrian men aged 31 and 44 as suspected smugglers.

During the arrest, police said, the patrol and the group of refugees came under fire from a suspected smuggler still on the Turkish side of the border, who fired about 30 shots.

The Greek patrol fired in the air, and no injuries were reported.

PA Media

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