Three dead, 53 rescued in refugee, migrant vessel sinking off Greece’s Crete island

The bodies of three victims have been recovered, while 53 others have been rescued about 12 nautical miles off southeastern Crete island, after a vessel carrying a still unclear number of refugees and migrants sank, Greece’s Coast Guard said on Monday.

A search and rescue operation was underway with the participation of a Navy frigate, Air Force helicopter, and ships sailing nearby, while winds blowing in the area were reaching up to 7 on the Beaufort scale, according to the e-mailed press release.

The nationalities of the victims and the rescued have not been announced.

Since 2015 more than one million people have reached Greece risking their lives at sea fleeing war zones and extreme poverty, while hundreds perished in the waters.

Currently, about 100,000 asylum seekers are stranded in Greece, after the closure of borders along the Balkan route in 2016.