ATHENS: More than 100 migrants were rescued early on Sunday off the island of Mykonos in the Aegean Sea and four are missing, the Greek coastguard said.

“A large-scale rescue operation of migrants is under way from late Saturday two miles south of the island of Delos. So far 108 migrants have been rescued, while according to those rescued, four people are missing”, a coastguard statement said.

Among the rescued, there were 24 women and 21 children, while three people have been taken to a health centre on Mykonos.

Port police responded to a distress call, sending three boats and a tugboat to help the stricken vessel which came from Turkey, the coastguard said.

According to the coastguard statement, the tugboat reached the sailing boat carrying the migrants but did not pull it to safety because it was taking on water and there were high winds.

The migrants were initially taken to a rocky islet nearby with other boats and were transported to Mykonos early on Sunday. Search and rescue efforts were continuing. Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi had earlier tweeted that eight migrants were missing and 104 had been rescued.

He also called on Turkey to do more to protect human lives and eradicate smuggling networks.

“Greece is protecting its borders with determination, but its first priority is always the protection of human life”, Shipping Minister Giannis Plakiotakis said.

In May, Greek authorities said they had prevented around 600 migrants from crossing the Aegean Sea from neighbouring Turkey in one day, in the largest attempted entry this year.

A migration ministry source had said migration flows to the Greek islands in the first four months of 2022 were nearly 30 percent higher than in the same period last year.

Published in Dawn,June 20th, 2022

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