Turkish Coast Guard saves 130 migrants pushed back by Greece
ISTANBUL / ATHENS
Initiating an operation upon the notification that there was a group of irregular migrants in a rubber boat off the coast of Dikili, teams rescued 33 irregular migrants, which was determined to be pushed back into Turkish territorial waters by the Greek forces, on Aug. 8.
On the evening of the same day, another group of six migrants in a rubber boat, which was dragged by taking in water, was rescued.
Later in the evening, off the Karaburun district, the teams carried out another operation and rescued another 37 irregular migrants pushed back by Greek forces.
With the last operation, conducted on the night of Aug. 9, the Turkish Coast Guard rescued 54 more irregular migrants off the coast of Karaburun district.
When the illegal migrants landed they were sent to the Provincial Directorate of Migration Management in İzmir.
Meanwhile, Greek authorities said a major search and rescue operation has been launched east of the island of Karpathos after a boat reportedly carrying dozens of migrants sank.
The coast guard said that 29 people, all men, had been rescued from the sea 33 nautical miles (38 miles, 61 kilometers) east-southeast of Karpathos, a southeastern island between Rhodes and Crete. Those rescued were from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, and told authorities there had been roughly 60 to 80 people on board the vessel when it went down, the coast guard said.
Those rescued said the boat had set sail from the Antalya area on the southern Turkish coast and was aiming for Italy when it ran into trouble during the night.
The rescue effort, ordered by Shipping and Island Policy Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis, according to a coastguard statement, included four vessels already sailing in the southern Aegean, two coastguard patrol boats and a Greek air force helicopter.
However, strong winds of up to 50 kilometers per hour (30 mph) were hampering the operation, coast guard spokesperson Nikos Kokalas told Greek Skai radio.
Although the boat appears to have been trying to get to Italy, Greece is often the country of choice for migrants fleeing Africa and the Middle East to try to reach a better life in the European Union.
Thousands come to Greece via Türkiye over the narrow and perilous sea as 64 people have perished in the eastern Mediterranean since January, the International Organization for Migration says.
But with Greek authorities increasing patrols in the Aegean and facing repeated and persistent reports of summarily deporting new arrivals to Türkiye without allowing them to apply for asylum, many are now skirting the Greek islands and attempting to take the much longer, and more dangerous, route directly to Italy.