November 25, 2014 / 12:08 PM / in 3 years

Greece acts to rescue ship carrying hundreds of migrants

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece has sent a frigate to rescue a container ship believed to carrying hundreds of undocumented migrants and in distress off its southern island of Crete, the Greek coastguard said on Tuesday.

The Kiribati-flagged vessel, with about 700 people aboard, was sailing 30 nautical miles (55 km) southeast of Crete. The ship reported an engine problem in an area with strong winds.

Four container ships sailing nearby could be called on to help if needed, a coastguard spokesman said. “There is no immediate danger, our priority is to save them if needed,” he said. “We’re waiting for the weather to calm down.”

Greece is a popular entry point into Europe for thousands of undocumented migrants from Asia and Africa. In September Athens warned that it was slipping into a “danger zone” without adequate funds or resources to handle a fast-growing wave of refugees from war-torn nations like Syria and Iraq.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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