A total of 108 migrants have been rescued from a boat that was found rudderless and leaking water in the Aegean Sea in near gale force winds, Greek authorities have said.
The rescued migrants comprised of 63 men, 24 women and 21 children, who told authorities that four other people are missing.Migrants were pictured in a shelter on Mykonos following the rescue
Late on Saturday, the coastguard received reports of an adrift sailing boat off the uninhabited Greek island of Delos. It dispatched three rescue vessels and a tugboat in response.
Rescuers managed to tow the boat to an islet off the nearby island of Mykonos early on Sunday, authorities said. The migrants were then safely transported to Mykonos.
They claimed to authorities that their boat had sailed from Turkey to an unknown destination.
“Once again, the coastguard saved lives that the ruthless trafficking networks have exposed to mortal danger without even the barest protection measures,” shipping and island policy minister Ioannis Plakiotakis said.
Meanwhile, in the neighbouring country of North Macedonia, police said they discovered 71 migrants in two separate operations on Saturday night and arrested three men suspected of human trafficking.
Police raided a home in the northern town of Kumanovo and discovered 44 Pakistanis and one person from India. The homeowner, a 41-year-old identified only by his initials as UF, was also arrested.
The migrants are understood to have entered illegally from Greece and were waiting to be smuggled to Serbia before travelling to unidentified EU countries.
Authorities said they have been transferred to a migrant reception centre on the border with Serbia pending deportation.
Separately, Greek police discovered 26 migrants from Syria hidden in a van during a routine check on a motorway toll station in the southern part of the country.
The van driver and his assistant, both Macedonian nationals, were arrested, officials said on Sunday.
The migrants were transferred to a reception centre near the border with Greece pending deportation to that country.
Police say the Balkan route for migrants, through North Macedonia, has become more active again in recent months after many countries lifted travel restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic.