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Egypt's military sends forces to aid migrant boat rescue

Ahram Online , Friday 3 Jun 2016
Vessel
An archival for a vessel affiliated with Egypt's navy (Photo: Al Ahram)
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The Egyptian army said it has sent a military aircraft and three vessels to rescue a migrant boat that was sinking in the Mediterranean off the Greek island of Crete, as the search for the hundreds believed missing continues.
 
The military's search-and-rescue centre received a distress call from a boat full of migrants in the Mediterranean on Friday, 265km northwest of the western Egyptian town of Salloum, the army said in a statement Friday.
 
Greece's coastguard spokesman, Nikos Lagadianos, said four bodies were pulled out of the water and at least 340 people rescued as Greece rushed two patrol vessels, a military airplane and three helicopters to the scene for the rescue operations. Passing merchant vessels were also taking part in the rescue efforts some 75 nautical miles south of Crete.
 
At least 700 migrants were believed to be on board the smuggling boat which capsized off the coast of Crete, with hundreds still missing, the International Organisation for Migration said.
 
The incident took place in international waters.
 
It was not immediately clear what flag the ship carried, where it set off from, or the nationalities of those aboard.
 
Thousands of migrants and refugees head for Europe every month in overcrowded and rickety smuggling vessels boats.
 
Some 204,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe since the beginning of 2016, while 2,500 died while making the precarious trip, the United Nations' refugee agency said on Tuesday. 
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