Greece Searching for Migrant Boat off Crete
Greece ordered two ships on Monday to search for a vessel believed to be carrying about 200 migrants after it sent a distress signal off the island of Crete, the coastguard said.
A Greek-flagged tanker and a Panama-flagged freighter in the area were heading to the location, about 80 nautical miles south of Crete and 15 nautical miles within Libyan waters, coastguard spokesman Nikos Lagkadianos told Reuters.
"We haven't spotted anything yet," he said.
Crete, Greece's southernmost island, lies north of Libya and Egypt. In recent weeks, the number of migrants heading to Italy from the African coast has grown as calmer weather sets in, and so has the number of boats that have lost their way and ended up near Crete.
Some 206,400 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. So far, 2,809 deaths have been recorded, up from 1,838 during the same period last year.
About 320 migrants and refugees are feared to have drowned in a shipwreck off Crete earlier this month, from which 340 people were rescued. Survivors told authorities they had set sail from Egypt.
Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou