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Coast Guard: 74 migrants found in wooden boat south of Crete

Dozens of migrants found in a wooden boat on the Mediterranean Sea between northern Africa and southern Europe have been transported to the Greek island of Crete, Greece’s coast guard said Monday.

The boat with 74 people on board was found late Sunday 25 nautical miles (46 kilometers, 29 miles) south of the small Greek island of Gavdos on Sunday night, the coast guard said, adding that a patrol boat transported the 73 men and one woman to Crete.

It was not immediately clear where or when the boat had launched or what countries the passengers were from. No injuries or illnesses were reported among them. They were taken to a temporary shelter.

Greece is a major entry point into the European Union for people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Gavdos, which lies 27 nautical miles south of Crete, and Crete’s southern coastline have seen an increase in migrant arrivals in recent months. In several cases, the coast guard said they had crossed the Mediterranean from the eastern Libyan port of Tobruk, having paid smuggling gangs up to $5,000 each.

The influx has put pressure on authorities on Gavdos, a summer tourism destination about 29 square kilometers (11 square miles) in area that has just a few dozen residents in the off season.

Source: AP