Boat with hundreds of migrants capsizes in central Mediterranean

Greek rescuers pulled 250 people from the Mediterranean and were searching for more survivors Friday after a boat with hundreds of migrants capsized south of Crete.

"We have rescued 250 people so far and are searching for more migrants in the sea," Greek Coastguard spokesman Nikolaos Lanadianos told state TV.

The boat - its origin not immediately clear and carrying migrants of undetermined nationality - capsized 75 miles south of Crete in the central Mediterranean. 

Rescue ships, several commercial vessels sailing nearby and two helicopters took part in the search.

Greek media report that around 700 may have been on board the sunken ship, speculating that it was on its way from Egypt to Italy.

Following the March closure of the Balkan route, the main gateway to Europe for migrants in 2015-16, smugglers have turned their attention to the crossing from Egypt to Italy, with Crete around halfway.

In the recent days some 180 migrants landed on Crete after their vessels ran into trouble at sea.

According to International Organization for Migration (IOM) figures, nearly 47,000 people crossed the central Mediterranean en route to Italy in the first five months of 2016, while at least 2,061 drowned attempting the crossing.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49
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