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Dozens of migrants rescued off Greek island

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Dozens of migrants have been rescued from a boat off the Greek island of Halki, the coast guard said on Wednesday, in one of the biggest operations of its kind in the country in months.

At least 96 people had been rescued since the incident was first reported on Tuesday evening. The operation, 21 miles west of the small Aegean island of Halki, close to Turkey, was still in progress as witnesses reported that there were more people on board.

Ten vessels, two helicopters and a frigate assisted the coast guard’s efforts. Most of those rescued were taken to the island of Rhodes.

A Greek coast guard official said that the Turkish coast guard tried to intervene in the operation on Tuesday, while a navy official, who declined to be named, said some of the migrants had been collected by a Turkish vessel.

“We will continue searching until every possibility of rescuing someone is exhausted,” one of the coast guard officials told Reuters.

Greece was the main gateway for hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers, many fleeing fighting in Syria, who streamed out of neighbouring Turkey in 2015 and 2016 until a deal with the European Union stemmed the flow.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Nick Macfie

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