Greek police said Thursday they rescued 64 asylum-seekers, including 10 children, who had been marooned by smugglers on a tiny islet in the river that runs along Greece’s land border with Turkey.
Police said the migrants were located Wednesday night after Greek authorities were tipped off to their presence, but that the group initially refused to accompany rescue teams into boats to take them to the Greek side of the Evros River.
A second attempt during daylight Thursday was successful. Police said they safely evacuated all 46 men, eight women and 10 children, who said they were Syrian nationals seeking asylum in the European Union. They said they had been left on the island, near the northeastern Greek town of Didymoteicho, by smugglers who took them there by boat from the Turkish side.
The land border is a key crossing point for people from the Middle East, Asia and Africa fleeing war or poverty to reach the EU. On Saturday night, a woman was killed by gunfire as a group of migrants crossed the Evros by boat to Greece. It wasn’t immediately clear who fired the fatal shot.
Greek police said they came under fire from the Turkish side, and responded with warning shots in the air. [AP]