Greek police yesterday arrested two suspected people smugglers over the shipwreck of a migrant boat that ran aground on rocks off the island of Rhodes, killing three people, including a child.
The two Syrian men, aged 26 and 27, were among the 90 survivors of the tragedy, some of whom were filmed being pulled to safety after clinging to wreckage in rough waters.
The suspects were to be brought before a prosecutor later in the day, the harbour police said. The boat had set out from nearby Turkey with 93 migrants, mostly Syrians.
The harbour police said they came to the rescue of two other stricken migrant boats in the Aegean Sea that were carrying nearly 100 passengers between them yesterday.
The passengers were taken to the islands of Leros and Samos.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s coastguard rescued 30 Syrians from a boat heading towards Greece after their vessel began to take on water in the Aegean Sea, state media said yesterday.
The rescue operation came amid a surge in the numbers of migrants seeking to reach Europe, following the Mediterranean’s worst migrant disaster in which as many as 800 people drowned off Libya.
The migrants had been trying to reach the Greek island of Kos from the Turkish resort of Bodrum but their boat started to take on water during a storm, the official Anatolia news agency said.
The coastguard was mobilised following a tip-off and intercepted the boat off Bodrum late Monday.
The officials rescued all the migrants, including a child, from the sinking boat at the last minute, Anatolia said.
Some migrants were forced by their suspected smugglers to jump into the water. Police were trying to identify the captain of the boat.
The agency said that some of the migrants had been detained a few times before as they tried to cross into Europe illegally.
A fishing vessel crammed with migrants capsized off Libya at the weekend with the loss of 800 lives, a few days after hundreds died in another incident.
Turkey, which is already sheltering 1.8 million refugees from the Syrian civil war, has become a key transit point for people seeking a better life in Europe.
Many pay people smugglers thousands of dollars to travel towards EU states in small boats, but the journey is fraught with danger.
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