A total of 119 illegal migrants, possibly from Afghanistan, were spotted in the early morning hours on Tuesday on board a wooden boat in distress 28 nautical miles west of the Ionian island of Paxi. The vessel had originated from the seaport of Igoumenitsa, northwest Greece, destined for Italy. Coast Guard patrol boats picked up 41 migrants from the 3-meter wooden boat, while 78 refuse to leave it.
According to the Corfu port authority, it received a call from the Corfu police late Monday night about a foreign national who had phoned the police emergency line saying he was on a boat that was taking on water, with an unknown number of other migrants.
The Harbor Corps' Search and Rescue Center-Coastguard was immediately alerted as well as the nearby port authorities, and an operation was immediately launched after the wider area after the telephone call from the migrant was pinpointed as coming from the sea area southwest of Corfu, the announcement said.
Three Coastguard patrol boats, a Super Puma all-weather helicopter and an airforce C-130 aircraft, the tugboat 'Thyella', the sea taxi 'Lakka Paxi' and vessels sailing nearby were mobilised in the search for the distressed boat, which was later spotted by the Malta-flag freighter 'Alexandra'.
Bangladeshi body count reaches 13, one person still missing
The body count of Bangladeshi nationals, missing since the night of March 5 after they jumped off the ship "Ionian King", has reached 13 after another body was found floating in Souda bay on the island of Crete on Tuesday.
The "Ionian King" was carrying a shipload of Bangladeshis that had been evacuated from strife-torn Libya to Crete, where they faced extradition back to their own country.
As the ship approached the harbour, 49 people on board the ship jumped into the freezing waters in a desperate attempt to escape the authorities.
A total of 35 persons were found on land and rescued from the sea at the time.
The latest body count has reached 13, while one person is still missing.