Authorities in western Crete are continuing intensive search efforts in Souda Bay for 11 missing Bangladeshi nationals who "jumped ship" when the ferry boat evacuating them from Libya anchored at the port, as more than 50 of the south Asian labourers apparently slid down a rope in the frigid waters in a bid to remain in Greece instead of being repatriated.

Three bodies have so far been recovered, while more than a dozen remain hospitalised. The "Ionian King" is now hosting 1,277 third country nationals, who are expected to return to their country aboard chartered flights.

Rough seas and rain were plaguing efforts on Monday afternoon in both the water and on the land.

Finally, coast guard officials have initially ruled out complicity by the ship's crewmembers in the failed scheme.