The drifting cargo ship MV Baris with 700 immigrants on board was hauled by a Greek frigate on Thursday in one of the largest Greek rescue operations. Тhe vessel is back to safety – on Crete Island, according to the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) information.
On Tuesday, a distress call was sent from MV Baris (Kiribati flagged vessel) due to engine failure 45 km southeast of Crete. The Greek ship, which was immediately sent for assistance, has resisted over 24 hours to the powerful waves and winds to haul the vessel to the Ierapetra port, where the immigrants were transported to the closest town.
Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, the Greek Shipping Minister, said in the parliament:
"The coastguard has been fighting waves since yesterday in a huge rescue operation for 700 souls in very tough conditions."
The immigrants, who include over 200 women and kids, were examined by Greek doctors, who had boarded the ship. Probably, the majority of the immigrants came from Syria and Afghanistan.
Due to its closeness to Africa, Greece is the most popular entrance for thousands of African and Asian illegal immigrants. Athens warned in September, that the migrant waves were growing due to the Syrian and Iraq wars, and they might become “danger zone” without the necessary resources to handle them.
In its address to the European leaders, Pope Francis said that the Mediterranean Sea was becoming a cemetery, and they must do more to help the thousands of poor immigrants trying to reach the continent.
Video: Baris being towed to safety
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