Palestinians Feared Missing as Rescue Operations Keep Going off Aegean Coast

Palestinians Feared Missing as Rescue Operations Keep Going off Aegean Coast

Image Credits: Hellenic Coast Guard

Palestinian refugee families have voiced deep concern over their relatives’ fate as Greece’s coast guard is continuing a search and rescue operation, after a yacht smuggling migrants partially sank in the eastern Aegean Sea.

96 people were rescued from the vessel, which was found west of the small island of Halki, near Rhodes.

The total number of those people on board was not immediately known.

Among the survivors, Greek authorities say they have identified three suspected smugglers, who have been arrested.

Many of those who were rescued, including children, had not been wearing life jackets.

The authorities were initially alerted to the sinking vessel when a passenger on board made an emergency call late on Tuesday.

"Four coastguard patrol boats, a rescue boat, a naval vessel, five cargo ships sailing in the area and an air force helicopter took part in the operation", according to a statement from the Ministry of the Merchant Navy.

Of those rescued, 72 were transported to Rhodes, five to the island of Karpathos, and 19 were picked up from a cargo ship by the Turkish coast guard.

The migrants to Greek islands were being given coronavirus tests and were being housed in quarantine hotels.

Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for Palestinian asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants seeking to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

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