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MONDAY, 21 APR 2014
06:18 PM Beirut time
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Over 90 migrants rescued off Greece: coastguard
Agence France Presse
Coast guard officers tie a boat to their vessel near the coast of Lefkada island in the Ionian Sea, western Greece, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Dimitris Dimitriou)
Coast guard officers tie a boat to their vessel near the coast of Lefkada island in the Ionian Sea, western Greece, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Dimitris Dimitriou)
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ATHENS: The Greek coastguard has rescued more than 90 migrants sailing off the south of the country after their boat ran into trouble in bad weather, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

"Overall 97 persons (were rescued) yesterday, including three who are presumed traffickers," a coastguard spokeswoman told AFP, adding they have all been taken to the western city of Pylos.

"The traffickers are being detained in the police station and the other 94 persons are in a stadium" on a temporary basis, she said.

The boat first encountered difficulties late on Monday and the rescue operation, in which 13 vessels and one helicopter participated, was completed on Wednesday.

All the migrants are doing well according to the coastguard. Their nationalities have not been released.

Two pregnant women and an elderly woman were taken to the city's health centre as a precautionary measure, the state-run Athens News Agency reported.

Greece is one of the main ports of entry into the European Union for migrants and refugees fleeing war-torn and impoverished countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.

Refugee traffic has soared over the past year because of the ongoing war in Syria. Arrivals by sea have increased owing to stricter controls on the Greek-Turkish northern land border.

In November, authorities in western Greece arrested four people -- three Greeks and a foreign national -- after 12 migrants, including four children, drowned while trying to reach Italy in an eight-metre (26-foot) fibreglass boat.

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