ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A search and rescue operation was carried out on Friday for a third day for immigrants reported missing after their capsized boat south of the Greek island of Rhodes, the coastguard announced on Friday.
A Greek frigate and three merchant ships were searching the area about 40 nautical miles (74 kilometers, 46 mi) south of Rhodes and 33 nautical miles southeast of Karpathos, the coast guard said on Friday.
A total of 29 survivors, all men, were picked up by a merchant ship and a Greek Air Force helicopter in the early hours of Wednesday after the boat sank. Survivors initially said between 60 and 80 people were on board, but that figure was later revised, and the Coast Guard said on Friday a total of 50 to 60 people were now on board.
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Two of the 29, who the coast guard said were Turkish nationals, were rescued by helicopter and flown to Karpathos, while the other 27, all nationals of Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, were picked up by the merchant ship and transported to Kos.
The Turkish Coast Guard also said on Wednesday that it had rescued five people. No other survivors or bodies have been located since the initial rescues.
It was not immediately clear why the boat sank, but weather conditions in the area were difficult at the time, with strong winds and rough seas, Greek authorities said.
The most common sea route for asylum seekers from the Middle East, Asia and Africa is that between Turkey and neighboring Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.
But with Greek authorities increasing patrols in the region and facing persistent reports of summary deportations of new arrivals to Turkey without allowing them to seek asylum, many are now trying the much longer and more dangerous route. directly to Italy. The Greek authorities deny carrying out unlawful summary expulsions of asylum seekers.
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