Migrant crisis: Hundreds rescued from boat off Crete

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Source: BBC

About 340 migrants have been rescued and nine bodies have been pulled from the sea after a boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, Greek officials say.

Others are thought to be missing from the boat which was found in international waters, 75 nautical miles (140km) south of Greece’s Crete island.

Ships, helicopters and planes are engaged in the rescue operation.

In a separate incident, “more than 100 bodies” were recovered off the coast of Libya, the AP news agency said.

Officials have said they believe the vessel that capsized off the coast of Crete “left from Africa” though it is still not clear from where.

The local head of the International Organisation for Migration Daniel Esdras told the BBC that it was a 25-metre (82ft) boat that can typically carry at least 700 people.

“With the number you can never be sure because most of the times the minors are not even counted when the captain is counting the passengers. So, God knows how many people are really on the ship. We believe around 700,” he said.

More than 200 of the survivors were rescued by a Norwegian tanker ship. The Clipper Hebe has a crew of 21, and is now on its way to Italy. The CEO of the company that owns the ship, Edvin Andreason, told the BBC the Italian coastguard had not yet instructed the captain where to take the migrants.

A British container vessel, Julie C, later became involved in the rescue. It is carrying 17 rescued migrants who will later be transferred to an Egyptian patrol vessel.

Military hospitals in the north and west of Egypt have been put on standby for the migrants’ arrival.

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