The Greek coast guard says it has picked up nearly 170 migrants near the Peloponnese peninsula. People smugglers operating between Turkey and Greece often put migrants on unseaworthy boats.
According to the dpa news agency, nearly 170 migrants drifting off the Peloponnese peninsula in a damaged boat were rescued by the Greek coast guard on Sunday (May 2).
Citing a statement by the coast guard, dpa reported that "(A) passing freighter picked up the people." The migrants are to be taken to the port city of Kalamata on the Peloponnese.
According to the statement, coast guard boats were escorting the freighter. "The migrants' vessel had been drifting for several hours following engine failure" around 50 nautical miles (93 kilometers) south of the Peloponnese, dpa reported.
Smuggling migrants a regular occurrence
In recent months, migrants have been repeatedly picked up off different Greek islands or off the Peloponnese peninsula as people smugglers regularly try to bring them to Greece from the Turkish Aegean coast on the perilous route to Italy.
Two incidents from last September exemplify this trend: Two Turkish nationals were detained after a vessel with 74 migrants and two alleged people smugglers reached a port in western Greece after sending distress signals. And off Crete, at least one woman and two children died when a boat capsized due to heavy winds.
According to the Greek coast guard, the boats are often very old and their engines frequently break down during the long journey. A Twitter statement from April 20 said the coast guard dismantled a "network of illegal trafficking of migrants."