NEWS

Iraqis rescued from locked truck

Eighty-seven Iraqis who had been locked in the back of a truck for two days were found near Athens yesterday, hours before a search was launched for 14 migrants missing off the island of Chios. Security guards at a factory in Schimatari, some 60 kilometers north of Athens, found the Iraqi immigrants in a lorry that had been abandoned near the site. Authorities said the migrants, aged between 14 and 25, were exhausted and dehydrated. Two were taken to a medical center and the others to a local sports hall, where they received medical treatment, food and clothing. It was not clear how the migrants came to be abandoned in Schimatari but authorities said they had been in the truck for at least two days. In a separate development, coast guard officers were last night looking for 14 migrants believed to have been on board a small boat that sank off the coast of Chios in the eastern Aegean. Two coast guard boats, private vessels and a Super Puma helicopter were searching for the illegal immigrants who were probably trying to reach the island from Turkey. Authorities were alerted to the sinking of the vessel carrying the migrants when the crew of a passing boat pulled one of the immigrants out of the water and he told them that the vessel had sunk. Meanwhile, coast guard sources told Kathimerini yesterday that a recent incident off Chios that led to a man being shot by officers served to confirm the links between organized crime and people trafficking. Officers fired warning shots at a boat that failed to stop when ordered to do so, but one of the bullets struck 48-year-old Dimitris Makriyiannis, who later died. Sources said that Makriyiannis had a long criminal record and that at least one of the other two people on board the boat had been linked to people smuggling in the past.