Authorities in southern Greece said Monday that 90 migrants, including 37 children, have been rescued from a US-flagged yacht believed to be sailing from Turkey to Italy. The rescue took place on Sunday after a passenger made a distress call off the Greek island of Kythira, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) southwest of Athens. The coast guard said three vessels were involved in the rescue of 35 men, 18 women, 27 boys and 10 girls from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iraq, and Egypt.
Two of the passengers were later arrested on smuggling charges and detained, while the others were taken to a nearby mainland port for registration. Smugglers in recent years have used yachts and sailboats , often later discovered to have been stolen at Turkish marinas, to try and avoid detection along routes to Europe. They often bypass Greece and head to the southern Italian mainland, which provides easier access to Central European countries.
The longer trip to Italy is also more profitable, typically costing each passenger about $9,000, or about six times the amount charged by smugglers on Turkey’s coast for a dinghy ride to an eastern Greek island. In October, at least six people died in Kythira when a sailboat with dozens of migrants on board hit rocks and partially sank, while 80 others were rescued.