Ship Stranded Near Greek Coast

01.Jan.02,  first published by Associated Press: read the original article here.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Ships and helicopters raced through stormy weather Tuesday to reach a distressed ship carrying about 230 illegal immigrants. Authorities said there was no immediate danger.

The coast guard located the 132-foot ship near the island of Crete and was considering bringing the Italy-bound immigrants to shore, the merchant marine ministry said. The search was mounted after Turkish authorities received word that the vessel was endangered by high seas and alerted their Greek counterparts.

The SOS call initially suggested the ship was sinking or in danger of foundering between Crete and the Aegean Sea island of Kassos, about 180 miles southeast of Athens. The nationalities of the immigrants were not immediately known.

Tens of thousands of people attempt to enter European Union (news - web sites) member Greece illegally each year. Many cross the country's mountainous northern borders or sail to Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast.
Last month, more than 190 immigrants were found on the island of Gioura in the central Aegean after their wooden fishing vessel foundered. The majority were Iraqi Kurds, but the group included Pakistanis, Chinese, Moroccans and an Afghan.

On New Year's Eve in 1998, at least 12 immigrants drowned in the eastern Aegean after their boat was swamped in high seas.