The Greek coastguard cited passengers as saying the Turkish-flagged vessel had sailed from Turkey, calling Friday’s response “one of the largest search and rescue operations carried out in the Eastern Mediterranean”.
Greek authorities, who had earlier been notified that the ship was disabled and in need of assistance, said it was being taken to land but gave no further details.
The nationalities of the passengers were not immediately made public.
A photograph posted by the Greek coastguard on its website showed scores of people, seemingly, mostly men, standing in groups on the deck of a small, battered-looking freighter with what appeared to be the name “Vatha” painted on its bows.
A statement from the Hellenic Coast Guard
Extensive search and rescue operation in the wider sea area East of Crete
A large search and rescue operation for foreigners is underway in the sea area East of Crete, under the coordination of the Joint Search and Rescue Coordination Center.
In particular, the Joint Search and Rescue Coordination Center of the Hellenic Coast Guard was informed about the existence of a Turkish-flagged ship in the above sea area with about 400 people on board, who reportedly sailed from Turkey.