ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities said a major search and rescue operation had been launched east of the island of Karpathos after a boat carrying dozens of migrants reportedly sank overnight .
The Coast Guard said on Wednesday that 29 people, all men, had been rescued from the sea 33 nautical miles (38 miles, 61 kilometers) east southeast of Karpathos, a southeast island between Rhodes and Crete. Those rescued were from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, and told authorities there were around 60 to 80 people on board the ship when it sank, the Coast Guard said.
Those rescued said the boat had left the Antalya region on Turkey’s southern coast and was aiming for Italy when it ran into trouble overnight.
Two coastguard patrol boats, a Greek navy vessel, an air force helicopter and at least three vessels sailing nearby were assisting in search and rescue efforts, the coastguard said.
The most common sea route for asylum seekers from the Middle East, Asia and Africa is the one that connects Turkey to the neighboring Greek islands.
But with Greek authorities increasing patrols in the Aegean Sea and with reports that Turkey is summarily deporting people without allowing them to seek asylum, many are now bypassing the Greek islands and trying to take the longest route and the most dangerous directly to Italy. The Greek authorities deny carrying out unlawful summary expulsions of asylum seekers.
The Associated Press