Greek coastguards save 280 illegal migrants on ship

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ATHENS, Nov 11 (Reuters) Greek coastguards towed a Turkish cargo ship carrying 280 illegal migrants to shore today after it experienced mechanical problems in rough seas off the coast of southwestern Greece, coastguard officials said.

The ship had sailed from the Turkish coast and was heading for Italy when it sent out a distress signal about 11 miles west of the Peloponnese city of Katakolo, in the Ionian Sea.

Police sources said most of the migrants were Iraqis and 12 of them were children. They said they had paid 2,000 dollars a head for their passage to Italy.

The captain and 15 crew members were arrested and will appear before a public prosecutor.

In the past four years almost 400,000 illegal migrants, mainly from Asia, have tried to cross into EU member Greece, many of them on their way to central and northern Europe.

REUTERS SBC HT2355

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