NEWS

At least three Libya evacuees drown in Crete

At least three people have drowned after jumping from a Greek ferry as it was docking at Souda, Crete, after transporting some 1,200 evacuees from conflict-ridden Libya.

The incident occurred early on Sunday and 16 people are still unaccounted for. The victims were from Bangladesh. Another 22 people are receiving hospital treatment.

The coast guard said that a total 46 evacuees used a rope to descend from the ship which had already moored at the port because they feared that they would be sent back to their home country if their papers were checked by Greek authorities.

The Ionian King was carrying a total of 1,288 evacuees from Libya.

Greece has been very active in helping people leave Libya over the last couple of weeks and has ferried more than 10,000 Chinese workers to Crete so they could fly back to their homeland.

Greece?s efforts earned the praise of the US State Department this week. It is thought that Greek ferry companies will earn about 20 million euros from their participation in the evacuation operation.