117 Migrants Rescued Off Greek Island

117 Migrants Rescued Off Greek Island117 Migrants Rescued Off Greek Island

Greece’s coastguard says 117 migrants have been rescued off the western Greek island of Zakinthos after issuing a mayday call.

Greek authorities launched a rescue operation Saturday night after receiving the distress call. A military plane spotted the vessel west of Zakinthos in the Ionian Sea, the coast guard said Sunday. It was unclear what the emergency was, AP reported.

A lifeboat transferred the passengers to a passing cruise ship, the Island Princess, which was expected to arrive in a port on the western Greek mainland later on Sunday.

Tens of thousands of migrants have arrived in Greece so far this year, usually on Aegean islands from the nearby Turkish coast, overwhelming local authorities.

Aid groups say Greece urgently needs more help from the European Union to deal with the influx.

Nearly all of the people who have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year have landed in Italy, which has counted around 75,000 arrivals, and Greece, which has seen the numbers explode.

In June, the number of people crossing from Greece into Macedonia and Serbia had soared to an average of 1,000 per day.

EU leaders agreed last month to redistribute 40,000 Syrian and Eritrean asylum-seekers already in Europe to help take the load off countries like Greece and Italy, but on a voluntary basis after many member states objected strongly to proposed mandatory quotas.