Bid to boost patrols after sea rescues

Bid to boost patrols after sea rescues

The Hellenic Coast Guard is planning to boost patrols in the southeastern Aegean after two large smuggling boat rescue operations in three days.

A group of 55 undocumented migrants whose smuggling vessel had issued a distress signal off Rhodes on Thursday evening were transferred to the island’s main port on Friday.

A large rescue operation was launched on Thursday night but was hampered by strong winds in the area. In the end, the smuggling boat was towed to shore by a fishing boat with a Coast Guard escort. The migrants were to be transferred to reception facilities after undergoing tests for Covid-19.

The boat is believed to have been headed for Italy, as was another vessel that foundered off nearby Halki on Tuesday. In the past three months, more than 25 boats have left Turkey for Italy, Kathimerini understands.

Apart from intensifying patrols in the area, Greek authorities have reached out to their Italian counterparts, proposing that a helicopter currently monitoring the Ionian Sea for the European Union’s border monitoring agency Frontex should be moved down to the southeastern Aegean.

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