Migrant rescue operations continue in the Aegean

Coast guard officers gathered 18 undocumented immigrants, including a child, off the coast of Symi in the southeastern Aegean on Saturday morning after their suspected smugglers pierced the dinghy they had been travelling in to force a rescue operation.

The would-be migrants, who had been crammed into a rubber dinghy, started shouting for help as their vessel sank. No details were released about the ethnic origin of the migrants who lacked personal documents.

Merchant Marine Minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis was on the coast guard vessel that intercepted the smuggling boat in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The minister had asked to observe a night patrol in the Aegean following the fatal sinking of a smuggling vessel off the coast of Samos in the eastern Aegean on Friday, in which several people drowned.