ATHENS (Reuters) – Coastguards launched a search and rescue operation on Wednesday after a boat carrying as many as 50 migrants started to take in water south of Greece’s Folegandros island, officials said.
Rescuers found 12 of them, mostly Iraqis, in the boat’s tender, but the rest were still missing, a coastguard official said. Only two of the rescued migrants had life jackets, the official added.
Greece is the main route into the European Union for asylum-seekers arriving from Turkey. The number of arrivals has fallen sharply since 2016 after the EU and Ankara agreed a deal to stop migrants from crossing to Greece.
“The 12 mostly Iraqi migrants … were taken to Santorini. They are in good health,” the official said. They told authorities about 30 to 50 people had been on the boat.
The search and rescue operation involved four coast guard boats, five ships sailing in the area, two helicopters and a C-130 airplane.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos)