12 November, 2007
A Turkish motorship carrying 275 illegal immigrants and a 14-member crew was towed to safety on Sunday after issuing a distress signal late Saturday due to engine failure, as it was sailing 11 nautical miles west of the Peloponnese peninsula in rough seas.
The vessel was safely towed to the port of Katakolo shortly before noon on Sunday.
The motorship, identified as the "Akdag", issued an SOS at 9 p.m. Saturday as it was running adrift in 10-beaufort winds. The ship's captain told the Hellenic Navy's operations room that the vessel was carrying 275 illegal immigrants, most of them women and children, targeting disembarkation in Italy.
Greek coast guard vessels, rescue vessels and an all-weather helicopter were immediately despatched to the distressed motorship's assistance, while doctors and ambulances also rushed to Katakolo, in Pyrgos municipality, Ilia prefecture, on standby.
The Turkish ship, which was seized, reportedly sailed from Turkey and was headed to Italy, according to the skipper, who was arrested.
Twelve of the children and several adults aboard the vessel were hospitalised in Pyrgos, mostly suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. As soon as a count of the illegal immigrants is completed, they will be taken to the old Pyrgos hospital facility.
Staff members from the Athens-based infectious diseases control centre are due to arrive at the facility on Monday to perform medical examinations and tests on the illegal immigrants, who hailed from Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey, according to a coastguard spokeswoman.
Source: Athens News Agency