The Latest: 41 rescued on Aegean Sea after distress call

AP News
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Posted: Feb 27, 2017 4:17 PM
The Latest: 41 rescued on Aegean Sea after distress call

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):

10:15 p.m.

Greece's coast guard says 41 migrants have been rescued from a sailboat that made a distress call from the southern Aegean Sea, and are being transported to the country's main port of Piraeus.

A coast guard plane spotted the boat during a search and rescue operation Monday between the southern islands of Kythira and Antikythira, and the passengers were picked up by a nearby cargo ship.

The search operation had been launched earlier Monday after Greek authorities received a call for help on an emergency telephone line from one of the passengers.

Greece was the main point of entry for migrants entering the European Union before an EU-Turkey deal limited new arrivals. Most heading from Turkey to Greece cross onto eastern Aegean islands.

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9:10 p.m.

Greece's coast guard says it has located a sailboat carrying dozens of migrants that made a distress call while in the southern Aegean Sea, and its passengers were being rescued.

A coast guard plane spotted the boat during a search and rescue operation Monday between the southern islands of Kythira and Antikythira. The coast guard says about 25 of its estimated 40 passengers so far have been transferred to a coast guard vessel.

The search operation was launched earlier Monday after Greek authorities received a call for help on an emergency telephone line from one of the passengers.

Greece was the main point of entry for migrants entering the European Union before an EU-Turkey deal limited new arrivals. Most heading from Turkey to Greece cross onto eastern Aegean islands.

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7:40 p.m.

Germany's foreign minister says Italy, Greece and France need more help on migration issues.

Sigmar Gabriel, in Rome for talks with his Italian counterpart Monday, told reporters "there can't be a European policy that comes at the expense of another country."

He added that "Italy, France and Greece need more help in the unemployment issue but also on migration."

Italy is insisting other EU countries take thousands of asylum-seekers it helped rescue at sea and adhere to an EU plan to do so. But the plan has barely got off the ground as northern European countries generally resist taking them.

There is growing concern that populist parties in Europe, including Italy, will gain more ground unless the migrant problem is better managed and economic growth is encouraged.

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4:30 p.m.

Austria's foreign minister says he favors setting up migrant holding camps in North Africa, but his German counterpart dismisses such plans as unrealistic.

Austria's Sebastian Kurz has cited the relative success of the EU-Turkey pact in reducing migrant flows into Europe in his calls — repeated Monday — for similar mass centers in countries like Libya or Sudan.

But Sigmar Gabriel of Germany says the chaos and anarchy gripping Libya would doom such an agreement from the outset. And he warned at a joint news conference with Kurz Monday that attempts by Tunisia to host mass concentrations of migrants could lead to "destabilizing" that country as it struggles to nurture its fragile democracy.

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4:25 p.m.

Greece's coast guard has launched a search and rescue operation for a boat believed to be carrying dozens of migrants in the southern Aegean following an emergency call from a passenger.

Two patrol boats, a coast guard aircraft and nearby ships were participating in Monday's search between the southern islands of Kythira and Antikythira.

The operation was launched after a passenger called emergency services requesting help for the vessel, saying it was carrying about 40 people. The coast guard said communication was poor and the caller did not specify the type of vessel or what problem it was experiencing.

Greece was the main point of entry for migrants entering the European Union before an EU-Turkey deal limited new arrivals. Most heading from Turkey to Greece cross to islands in the eastern Aegean.

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1:20 p.m.

Hungary has begun building a second fence on its border with Serbia to stop migrants from freely entering the country, the government says.

The government spokesman's office confirmed a report published in pro-government newspaper Magyar Idok.

Hungary built a barrier along the length of its borders with Serbia and Croatia in 2015. The government says the second fence is needed because it expects a surge of migrants to reach its borders this year.

"Although the EU-Turkey agreement is prevailing and the Western Balkan route is closed, we expect the migration pressure to appear at any moment at our southern borders," Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after meeting his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu. "For this reason, we are strengthening the defense of our southern border."