ATHENS, Greece (AP) – A boat carrying migrants sank in the eastern Aegean Sea, killing seven people on Friday, Greek authorities said.
The boat, which had been traveling from Turkey, capsized near the small Greek island of Inousses and 12 others were rescued, the coast guard said.
Two bodies were recovered in the initial stages of the search, while the other five were later located by divers.
Patrol vessels and a search-and-rescue aircraft from the European Union’s border protection agency Frontex were involved in the effort.
Migrant arrivals on the eastern Aegean islands have surged in recent weeks.
In Italy, two alleged human traffickers have been detained by police in the Sicilian town of Messina, after disembarking from the humanitarian ship Ocean Viking with 180 other migrants.
Police said that the alleged traffickers, both Egyptian, were detained after they were identified by several witnesses who were on board and have helped investigators to reconstruct the events that happened before the migrants’ departure from Libya.
Investigators said the witnesses told them they had paid a sum of money for the trip to Italy and then had been detained for a few days in a Libyan shed before being embarked for the dangerous trip.
A total of 182 people, rescued a week before from fragile boats off the Libyan coast, arrived in Sicily on Tuesday after days at sea.
In North Macedonia, police said they discovered 17 migrants in three cars and arrested three men suspected of belonging to a criminal ring smuggling them to Serbia. A police statement said the cars were stopped during a routine road check near the southern town of Strumica, close to the border with Greece.
The migrants were all from Bangladesh, and police said they would be deported back to Greece from where they are believed to have entered illegally. The three alleged smugglers were all from North Macedonia. The cars were stopped Thursday.
Serbia is the next country to the north of Macedonia on the Balkan route used by organized crime groups to smuggle migrants to Europe’s prosperous heartland.
Full AP coverage of the migrant crisis at https://www.apnews.com/migrants