Greek coast guard stops migrant sailboat south of Crete

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s coast guard says one of its patrol boats stopped a sailboat off the coast of the southern island of Crete after it was found to have been carrying dozens of migrants.

The Italian-flagged Marly had been sailing off the southwestern coast of Crete when it raised suspicion and was put under surveillance, the coast guard said.

It later stopped on the western coast of Crete, where 11 people disembarked before the vessel headed off away from the island and would not respond to calls from the coast guard, authorities said.

The sailboat was stopped and led to a harbor in southern Crete, where 59 migrants were found on board. Of the total 70 people who had been on the Marly, 13 were children and seven were women, the coast guard said.

The migrants were all transferred to the town of Chania in the north of the island.

Greece is one of the main entry points into the European Union for thousands of people fleeing poverty and conflict in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Most head to Aegean islands from the nearby Turkish coast, but Greek authorities have said a more recent trend is for larger boats to attempt to sail south of Crete and head toward Italy.

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