29 migrants have been rescued from a small boat in distress in the Mediterranean Sea south of Crete

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) – A group of 29 migrants were rescued Tuesday from a disabled boat in the Mediterranean Sea south of Crete, Greek officials said, on the busy North African-to-European migration route.

A statement from the coast guard said the boat was 27, 43 kilometers south of Gavdos, a small island off the southern coast of Crete, near a merchant ship that was passing by after passengers made a phone call.

The emigrants were taking them to the south of Crete. No information was immediately available on their health, nationality or port of departure.

South Crete and Gavdos, 27 kilometers from the island, have seen a significant increase in arrivals this year. Most leave the eastern Libyan port of Tobruk, after paying smugglers up to $5,000 each.

According to United Nations data, more than 1,200 people have arrived in the region this year, out of about 9,600 people who arrived in Greece by sea.

On Sunday, another 74 people he was saved in a boat south of Gavdos, which is about 29 square kilometers in size and has only 12 inhabitants in winter. Two of those on board were later arrested on suspicion of being part of a migrant smuggling ring.

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