ATHENS, October 30 (Reuters) – A Turkish-flagged freighter carrying around 400 migrants is slowly sailing off the island of Karpathos after sending a distress signal on Friday and will dock at a Greek port to disembark the migrants, a guard said -Greek coast said an official on Saturday.
The ship could not navigate independently and was being towed by a Greek Coast Guard vessel, the official said. He sent the distress signal near the island of Crete with the coast guard citing passengers as saying he had left Turkey.
“The ship is sailing very slowly off the island of Karpathos, carrying mainly Afghan migrants. It will dock in a Greek port which has not yet been decided,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Karpathos is the second largest of the Dodecanese Islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea.
The Greek Maritime Transport Ministry on Friday asked Turkey to accept the ship’s return to Turkey, an official from the Migration Ministry said. The Greek Migration Minister had contacted Turkish authorities and the European Commission to resolve the issue.
Greece is the main route of entry into the European Union for asylum seekers from Turkey. The number of arrivals has fallen sharply since 2016 after the EU and Ankara reached an agreement to prevent migrants from crossing to Greece.
Almost a million people, mostly Syrian refugees, arrived in the EU in 2015 after crossing the Greek islands close to Turkey. Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August, many EU states fear a recurrence of this crisis.
On Tuesday, four migrants, including three children, drowned after a boat in which they and 23 others were trying to cross from Turkey to Greece sank off the island of Chios.
Reporting by George Georgiopoulos Editing by Clelia Oziel
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