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At least 100 migrants rescued after boats ran aground off Greece

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Athens: Around 100 migrants were rescued after their boats ran aground on Friday off the coast of Greece, police said, while two Syrian girls, one of them a baby, drowned off the Libyan coast. One group of 67 migrants, including 13 children, was found stranded in their wooden boat off the western Greek port of Methoni on the Peloponnese peninsula, facing southern Italy.

The migrants, whose nationalities have not been revealed, appear to have been trying to leave Greece for Italy, according to initial reports.

They were taken to Methoni to be processed and identified, according to harbour police, who revised their earlier figure of around 50 migrants rescued.

In another incident, a sailboat was stranded off the Aegean island of Mykonos, which is popular with tourists and is near Turkey.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

All 36 migrants on board, including seven children, were rescued by the local authorities.

After a major lull since the European Union (EU) signed a controversial deal with Turkey to stem the migrant influx in March, there has been a slight uptick in arrivals in Greece in recent days.

Between Thursday and Friday morning, 261 new arrivals were registered on the Aegean islands -- mainly Lesbos -- an increase on recent days, according to the SOMP agency which is coordinating Greece's response to the migrant crisis.

The number of new arrivals, at an average of 100 a day, is however considerably lower than the peak of several thousand daily last summer.

Under the deal, Turkey agreed to take back Syrians who make it to Greece, in return for being allowed to send one from its massive refugee camps to the EU in a more orderly redistribution programme.

Lat week there were between 13 and 147 new arrivals every day. Both Greece and the EU fear that the migrant floodgates could re-open as Turkey focuses on a purge of officials following the failed coup of July 15 which has led to a souring of relations between Ankara and Brussels.

Some 10,000 migrants remain encamped on the Aegean islands — which have a capacity to host just 7,450 migrants — with most claiming asylum to either avoid or postpone their forcible return to Turkey under the deal.

First Published On : Aug 20, 2016 13:29 IST

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