Greece’s coast guard says it has towed a yacht carrying 170 migrants to a port on the country’s southern mainland after the vessel sent out a distress signal while sailing off the southern coast of Greece.
The yacht arrived in the port of Kalamata on Monday, the coast guard said. It did not have any further details on where it had set sail from, what its intended destination had been or what the nationalities of those on board were.
Authorities said a passing cargo ship initially began towing the yacht Sunday after it lost steering more than 50 nautical miles (57 miles) southwest of Cape Tenaro, also known as Cape Matapan, the southernmost tip of mainland Greece.
For years Greece has been a key entry point into the European Union for people fleeing violence and poverty in the Mideast, Africa and Asia. But authorities have increasingly been cracking down, particularly on the formerly most popular routes from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands, where cheap dinghies are most commonly used.
Smugglers using larger boats in the past have set sail from Egypt or Turkey in an attempt to cross much of the Mediterranean Sea and head directly to Italy.