ATHENS, Greece (Net) — At least 32 people have died off the coast of southern Greece after a fishing boat carrying dozens of migrants capsized and sank, authorities said Wednesday.
A large search and rescue operation was launched in the area. Authorities said 104 people have been res-cued so far following the nighttime incident some 75 kilometers (46 miles) southwest of Greece’s south-ern Peloponnese region.
Four of the survivors were hospitalized with symptoms of hypothermia. It was unclear how many pas-sengers might remain missing at sea after the 32 bodies were recovered, the Greek coast guard said.
Six coast guard vessels, a navy frigate, a military transport plane, an air force helicopter, several private vessels and a drone from the European Union border protection agency, Frontex, were taking part in the ongoing search.
The Italy-bound boat is believed to have sailed from the Tobruk area in eastern Libya. The Italian coast guard first alerted Greek authorities and Frontex about the approaching vessel on Tuesday.
Smugglers are increasingly taking larger boats into international waters off the Greek mainland to try to avoid local coast guard patrols.
On Sunday, 90 migrants on a U.S.-flagged yacht were rescued in the area after they made a distress call.
Separately Wednesday, a yacht with 81 migrants on board was towed to a port on the south coast of Greece’s island of Crete after authorities received a distress call.