The Greek coastguard said today it was escorting a vessel carrying around 50 migrants towards the island of Cephalonia in the Ionian sea after answering two mayday calls. A spokesman said it could not confirm the nationalities or exact number of migrants aboard but added that they seemed "to be in good health." An Italian sea rescue helicopter joined three Greek patrol boats in an operation coordinated by EU border control agency Frontex to locate the vessel after receiving the distress calls. Italy has become the prime European entry point for tens of thousands of migrants since last year's EU-Turkish agreement to stem the flow across the Aegean Sea and since the closure of the Balkan route, also last year. The accord with Ankara came after 2015 saw more than 800,000 refugees, mainly Syrians, reach Greece from Turkey. Spanish police and maritime rescue authorities meanwhile said they had rescued around 200 people off Spain's southern and eastern seaboard since Wednesday. According to the International Organization for Migration around 1,000 people reached Spain by sea between January 1 and April 11 with 47 more drowning. That compares with 27,000 arrivals and 603 deaths in Italy and 4,107 arrivals and 14 fatalities in Greece, according to IOM data. Spanish authorities said they picked up 62 North Africans, including 18 minors, at Barbate, near the Strait of Gibraltar and 52 more sub-Saharan Africans at Motril in the deep south, likewise opposite the Moroccan coast. A rescue services spokesman said all were in good health. Those rescues followed others throughout the week around Spain's south coast and off the Balearic Islands. A man, a women and a young girl were reported to have drowned after one barely seaworthy vessel was found off the island of Alboran, off Motril, in midweek.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)