Greece: 3 migrants dead, 56 saved after boat sinks off Crete

Migrants with their belongings walk near the new temporary refugee camp in Karatepe near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Greece's prime minister demanded Sunday that the European Union take a greater responsibility for managing migration into the bloc, as Greek authorities promised that 12,000 migrants and asylum-seekers left homeless after fire gutted an overcrowded camp would be moved shortly to a new tent city. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants with their belongings walk near the new temporary refugee camp in Karatepe near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Greece's prime minister demanded Sunday that the European Union take a greater responsibility for managing migration into the bloc, as Greek authorities promised that 12,000 migrants and asylum-seekers left homeless after fire gutted an overcrowded camp would be moved shortly to a new tent city. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Greek authorities say they three people have died and 56 have been rescued from the sea after a vessel carrying migrants sank off the southern island of Crete

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A smuggling boat sank off the southern Greek island of Crete on Monday, leaving three dead, while a large rescue operation managed to save 56 others from the sea, authorities said.

The Greek coast guard said efforts continued deep into the evening to locate other people who might be in the water. It said it was unclear whether anybody was still missing, as the survivors were not in a position to give accurate numbers of how many had been on board when the vessel went down.

The dead were listed as two children and a woman.

Initially, a person claiming to be a passenger who notified authorities by phone said 16 people were on the vessel that sank 12 miles (19 kilometers) east of Crete amid high winds Monday, the coast guard said.

A Greek naval frigate and an air force helicopter took part in the search, together with two coast guard boats and three merchant ships.

There was no indication where the vessel sailed from, how big it was or where it had been heading to.

Greece's Aegean Sea islands are often the destination for thousands of asylum-seekers and migrants from the Mideast, Africa and Asia who cross from the nearby Turkish coast in hopes of finding a better life in the European Union.

But on some occasions, smuggling gangs route yachts south of Crete to head for Italy.

A migrant uses water from a plastic pipe to wash himself outside the burned Moria refugee camp, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Greece's prime minister demanded Sunday that the European Union take a greater responsibility for managing migration into the bloc, as Greek authorities promised that 12,000 migrants and asylum-seekers left homeless after fire gutted an overcrowded camp would be moved shortly to a new tent city. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A migrant uses water from a plastic pipe to wash himself outside the burned Moria refugee camp, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Greece's prime minister demanded Sunday that the European Union take a greater responsibility for managing migration into the bloc, as Greek authorities promised that 12,000 migrants and asylum-seekers left homeless after fire gutted an overcrowded camp would be moved shortly to a new tent city. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants pull their belongings as they walk on a road near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Greece's prime minister demanded Sunday that the European Union take a greater responsibility for managing migration into the bloc, as Greek authorities promised that 12,000 migrants and asylum-seekers left homeless after fire gutted an overcrowded camp would be moved shortly to a new tent city. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants pull their belongings as they walk on a road near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Greece's prime minister demanded Sunday that the European Union take a greater responsibility for managing migration into the bloc, as Greek authorities promised that 12,000 migrants and asylum-seekers left homeless after fire gutted an overcrowded camp would be moved shortly to a new tent city. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris