192 migrants rescued in storm off Crete, 1 dead

The coast guard yesterday rescued nearly 200 illegal immigrants from a ship that had been floundering in choppy waters off the southeastern coast of Crete for several hours. A total of 192 migrants, who declared Iraqi nationality but are believed to be Egyptians, were rescued. One migrant was found dead – a diabetic whose blood sugar had fallen too low, a coroner said. Two of the migrants were hospitalized. Four crew members and another three foreign nationals have been detained on people-smuggling charges. The Silver Wave, a Bolivian-flagged cargo ship, issued a distress signal Wednesday at lunchtime after gale-force winds made its progress impossible. A rescue effort was launched immediately, coast guard officials said, but the vessel was not located until yesterday morning. The vessel is believed to have set sail from Egypt last week. Authorities are seeking another vessel that also left the port of Alexandria last week, which is believed to also be heading toward Greece. The Silver Wave was towed to shore and the 192 migrants given medical assistance and accommodated in a local hotel. A team of local doctors and Red Cross officials were on standby at the hotel yesterday. «We have a duty to look after these people until the state decides upon their status,» the deputy prefect of Lasithi, Theodoris Paterakis, told Kathimerini. Yesterday’s operation was the third involving large numbers of would-be migrants this year. In early November authorities intercepted nearly 300 migrants at Katakolo, in the Peloponnese, and in October a group of 117 migrants was detained on Zakynthos.