37 foreign nationals rescued off the southern coast of Kassos, near Crete

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Thirty-seven foreign nationals have been rescued off the southern side of Kassos island in the Aegean on Friday, as search and rescue operations are continuing for further passengers on a private inflatable dinghy.

An SOS had been sent of an unknown vessel with 45 people on board.

Of the total, 32 were collected with the help of nearby vessels, including the Maltese-flagged commercial ship 'Aral', and taken to Ierapetra port on Crete. In addition, an Air Force Super Puma operating 50 nautical miles south of Kassos and within the Athens Flight Information Region and the Greek search and rescue area, took on board 5 of the 37 rescued.

According to a Shipping & Island Policy Ministry announcement, the nationalities of those rescued included Iranians, Iraqis and Afghans.

Also rushing to the area from Suda Bay on Crete was an open-sea vessel of the Port Authority but was not able to make it east of Ierapetra due to the weather conditions.