Authorities said Sunday they have rescued 108 migrants from a sailboat that was found rudderless and leaking water in the Aegean Sea in near gale force winds.
The rescued migrants — 63 men, 24 women and 21 children — have told authorities four other people are missing.
Reports of a sailboat adrift off the uninhabited island of Delos reached the coast guard late Saturday. It dispatched three rescue vessels and a tugboat. Early Sunday morning, rescuers managed to tow the sailboat to an islet off the nearby island of Mykonos, authorities said. The migrants were safely transported to Mykonos. They told authorities that their boat had sailed from Turkey to an unknown destination.
None of the migrants on board were wearing a life vest, nor was there any life-saving equipment on board, authorities said.
“Once again, the coast guard saved lives that the ruthless trafficking networks have exposed to mortal danger without even the barest protection measures,” Shipping and Island Policy Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis said.
Late Sunday afternoon, a sailboat with 56 migrants — 28 men, 16 women and 12 women — ran aground at an inlet on the island of Rhodes, authorities said. The migrants, who are all well, made it to the shore on their own.
In unrelated migration cases in the neighboring country of North Macedonia, police said they discovered 71 migrants in two separate operations late Saturday and arrested three men suspected of human trafficking.
Police raided a home in the northern town of Kumanovo and found 44 Pakistanis and one person from India. Police arrested the homeowner, a 41-year-old identified only by his initials as U.F. The migrants are believed to have entered illegally from Greece and were waiting to be smuggled to Serbia on their way to unidentified EU countries. They have been transferred to a migrant reception center on the border with Serbia pending deportation.
In a separate case, police discovered 26 migrants from Syria hidden in a van during a routine check on a highway toll station in the southern part of the country. The van driver and his assistant, both Macedonian nationals, were arrested, police said Sunday.
The migrants were transferred to a reception center near the border with Greece pending deportation to that country.
Police say the Balkan route for migrants, through North Macedonia, has become more active again in the past few months after many countries lifted travel restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.