2 sailboats carrying dozens of migrants reach island; Suspected smugglers arrested
2 sailboats carrying dozens of migrants arrived on a southern Greek island early Wednesday, with the first one running aground on rocks. Nobody was reported injured or missing.
The coast guard said the first sailboat, which ran aground on the southern coast of Kythira early Wednesday, had been carrying 97 people, 93 of them from Afghanistan, 3 from Turkey and one from Pakistan. Local media reported that those on board included 5 women and 5 children.
The exact number of passengers on the second boat – which arrived around midday – and their nationalities were not immediately known, the coast guard said.
It was unclear when or from where the two vessels had set sail, and whether they had been travelling together or separately.
The most common sea route into Greece for asylum-seekers from the Middle East, Asia and Africa has long been from Turkey to the nearby Greek islands in the Aegean.
But with authorities increasing patrols in the area and facing persistent reports of summarily deporting new arrivals back to Turkey without allowing them to apply for asylum, many are now attempting the much longer, and more dangerous, route directly to Italy. Greek authorities deny they carry out illegal summary deportations of asylum-seekers. [AP]
Moreover, 3 Turkish nationals have been arrested and charged with human smuggling after two sailboats carrying dozens of migrants arrived on the Greek island of Kythera Wednesday.
The suspects, aged 30, 29 and 17, were among the 170 passengers picked up by the Hellenic Coast Guard.
Reports Wednesday said it was unclear when or from where the 2 vessels had set sail, and whether they had been traveling together or separately.
(Photo: A sailboat is seen abandoned on the southern island of Kythira, August 17. The sailboat carrying 97 migrants ran aground in the early hours of the morning and a second boat arrived with dozens people on the island on Wednesday noon. [Giorgos Samios/ ythera.news via AP])