Search continues off Crete for missing migrants

Greek authorities say a search and rescue operation is continuing off the coast of the southern island of Crete for several people believed missing a day after a boat carrying dozens of migrants sank in high winds.

Greece’s coast guard said three vessels were involved Friday in the search and rescue operation southeast of Crete. A total of 37 people were rescued late Thursday, including one child and one woman, with some pulled from the sea and others from the sinking sailboat, the coast guard said.

According to survivors, there were a total of about 45 people on board the vessel. The passengers’ nationalities, original departure point and intended destination were not immediately clear.

Greece is one of the preferred smuggling routes into the European Union for people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The vast majority attempt to cross to Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast in inflatable dinghies, but occasionally some attempt a longer crossing in larger boats, sometimes leaving the coast of north Africa and hoping to bypass Greece altogether and head directly to Italy. [AP]