192 migrants rescued in storm off Crete

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Posted by Greeka.com on 07 Dec 2007

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Rescued by the coast guard yesterday, nearly 200 illegal immigrants escaped death, as their ship was struggling against rough waters off the southeastern coast of Crete. Of the total number 192 have been rescued successfully, who despite claiming to be Iraqi nationals, are believed to be Egyptians.

One migrant though, was found dead, who according to the coroner was a diabetic whose blood sugar level had fallen too low. Another two migrants are currently hospitalized. Apart from the immigrants, four crew members as well as 3 other foreign nationals have been charged with people smuggling offences and have been detained.

The Bolivian flagged ship, known as The Silver Wave, had issued a distress signal on Wednesday during lunchtime, after being caught up in a storm, with gale force winds. Even though rescue efforts were launched immediately, the vessel could not be located until yesterday morning, said coast guard officials. It is believed that the vessel set sail from Egypt last week, and another vessel is rumored to be heading for Greece, which left the port of Alexandria last week, claimed officials.

After the ship was towed to the shore, all 192 migrants were given appropriate medical help and they have been placed in a local hotel for the time being. Also on standby at the site are a team of local doctors as well as Red Cross Officials. “Until the state decides on their statue, we have a duty to look after these people”, remarked Theodoris Paterakis, Deputy Prefect of Lassithi.

This operation is the third of its kind this year, where a large number of would-be migrants have been involved. The other two occurred in early November, when authorities intercepted almost 300 migrants, in Katakolo, located in the Peloponnese and the second was in October, involving a group of 117 migrants on Zakynthos. 

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