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Refugee-crammed vessel crawls into port in Crete

Red Cross volunteers and local authorities help rescue migrants

LOCAL authorities and Red Cross volunteers on the island of Crete stepped up efforts today to prepare shelter and food for hundreds of immigrants on a crippled freighter being slowly towed to safety by a Greek navy frigate.

The day after suffering engine failure in international waters, the 250-foot Baris cargo ship carrying 700 men, women and children was towed at a speed of about three knots towards the port of Ierapetra.

It was expected to arrive after sunset last night.

The coastguard said that initial indications suggested that passengers on the Kiribati-flagged ship included Syrians and Afghans heading for Italy.

About 80 per cent of migrants arriving at Greece's Aegean Sea islands are Syrians fleeing the war waged by the so-called Islamic State and other jihadist groups.

According to Amnesty International data, more than 2,500 people have drowned or gone missing this year alone - about 1.7 per cent of the estimated 150,000 who made it across.


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