74 illegal immigrants on damaged yacht rescued off Greece’s Western Coast

Greek authorities announced that a broken down yacht with 73 immigrants and two alleged migrant smugglers, were rescued off the coast of the island of Zakynthos on Saturday, after the vessel sent out a distress signal.

The passengers (48 men and 26 women) lacked identity papers and told Greek authorities they were from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey.

It is unclear where the vessel sailed from, but it was believed to have been heading for Italy.

Following the search and rescue operation that involved two coast guard boats and private pleasure boats, the yacht was located late on Saturday. The passengers on board were taken to the port of Katakolo, where they underwent coronavirus tests.

According to the Hellenic Coast Guard, the two Turkish nationals were arrested on suspicion of belonging to a criminal ring smuggling migrants into Europe.

It is recalled last week, despite harassment from Turkish authorities, the Hellenic Coast Guard rescued 96 foreign nationals at sea.

Illegal migratory flows to the Greek islands is down 83% compared to 2019. Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants, including thousands of unaccompanied children, are living in squalid conditions in overcrowded camps on several Greek islands after arriving from the nearby Turkish coast.