Nearly 600 migrants get temporary shelter on Crete - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Nearly 600 migrants get temporary shelter on Crete

IERAPETRA, Greece (AP) - Nearly 600 migrants, mostly refugees from Syria, have been temporarily put up in a basketball arena in the southern Cretan town of Ierapetra, where they arrived in a crippled smuggling ship after more than a week at sea.

Red Cross volunteers on Friday issued warm meals and clothing to the 80 children, 150 women and 361 men who were on the 77-meter (250-foot) Baris freighter, which was towed to Ierapetra Thursday, two days after losing engine power off Crete.

About two-thirds of the migrants are Syrians, who qualify for refugee status, while the others include Kurds, Afghans and Palestinians, officials said.

"These are lower to middle class people who were seeking a better life, due to the war in their country," said Argyris Pantazis, Ierapetra's deputy mayor for civil protection.

He said the Syrian refugees will probably leave the arena within the next two days. The other migrants, who do not immediately qualify for refugee status, will be given the option to return to their country voluntarily or be interned in camps pending deportation.

"Nobody should be in the position these people are in, but as that's the way it is we are doing everything in our power to help them," said Nikolaos Polychronakis, a Red Cross volunteer organizer from the nearby town of Aghios Nikolaos.

"They are settling in quite well. There are many families but we have milk, baby formula and nappies for the small children," he said.

The migrants left Turkey last week, and had paid smugglers between $2,000 and $6,000 to be taken to Italy.

It was one of the largest single crossings of its kind in recent years. Tens of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East risk the journey to Europe every year in usually unseaworthy craft ranging from dinghies to aging rust-buckets. Most end up in Italy, although Greece is also a major entry point.

Greek authorities have arrested seven crew members of the Baris and two suspected smugglers.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Massive Trump tax cuts face big hurdles as debt mounts

    Massive Trump tax cuts face big hurdles as debt mounts

    Wednesday, April 26 2017 5:56 AM EDT2017-04-26 09:56:41 GMT
    Wednesday, April 26 2017 5:56 AM EDT2017-04-26 09:56:41 GMT

    President Donald Trump's plan to provide massive tax breaks to corporations faces big challenges as Washington struggles with mounting debt.

    President Donald Trump's plan to provide massive tax breaks to corporations faces big challenges as Washington struggles with mounting debt.

  • Cat faces down snake in Texas standoff

    Cat faces down snake in Texas standoff

    Tuesday, April 25 2017 11:31 PM EDT2017-04-26 03:31:29 GMT
    Wednesday, April 26 2017 5:00 AM EDT2017-04-26 09:00:17 GMT

    A Facebook post by a Texas police department featured a courageous cat facing off with a giant snake. But the message was be careful. 

    A Facebook post by a Texas police department featured a courageous cat facing off with a giant snake. But the message was be careful. 

  • US sets up missile defense in S. Korea as North shows power

    US sets up missile defense in S. Korea as North shows power

    Wednesday, April 26 2017 4:17 AM EDT2017-04-26 08:17:43 GMT
    Wednesday, April 26 2017 4:17 AM EDT2017-04-26 08:17:43 GMT

    A U.S. guided-missile submarine arrived in South Korea on Tuesday and envoys from the U.S., Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo, as North Korea marked the anniversary of the founding of its military.

    A U.S. guided-missile submarine arrived in South Korea on Tuesday and envoys from the U.S., Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo, as North Korea marked the anniversary of the founding of its military.

Powered by Frankly