55 abandoned on yacht in gale

A trawler early yesterday rescued 55 illegal immigrants who had been abandoned during a gale by smugglers in a crippled sailing boat off the eastern coast of Evia. No smugglers were found on the 20-meter vessel, named Scrooge. Later in the day, in response to a distress signal, a coast-guard rescue helicopter located five men in a rubber dinghy further south. The four Polish nationals and one Greek aboard were arrested on suspicion of having crewed the Scrooge, which is believed to have ferried the illegal immigrants over from Turkey. The sailing vessel was located by the Panaghia Gridiotissa around 1 a.m., 22 miles east of Petries on the southeastern coast of Evia. It arrived at Petries under tow 12 hours later, whereupon seven of the immigrants were treated for hypothermia. The rest were taken to a school in Kymi, further north, where they were given food and clothing. The gale-force winds had led to a ban on ferries sailing in the area where the Scrooge was located.