ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s coast guard launched its final day of searching an area of the Mediterranean Sea where a large fishing boat packed with migrants sank and hundreds of passengers were missing and feared dead Friday.
The round-the-clock search and rescue operation off the coast of southern Greece entered its third day with little hope of finding survivors or bodies since none have been located since Wednesday, when 78 bodies were recovered and 104 people were rescued.
The fishing boat carrying the migrants was traveling from Libya to Italy. Greek authorities and European Union border protection agency Frontex tracked the boat before it capsized and sank early Wednesday.
The trawler may have carried as many as 750 passengers, according to the International Organization for Migration, the U.N. migration agency.
Most of the survivors were being moved Friday from a storage hangar at the southern port of Kalamata, where relatives also gathered to look for loved ones, to migrant shelters near Athens.
Nine people — all men from Egypt, ranging in age from 20 to 40 — were arrested and detained on allegations of people smuggling and participating in a criminal enterprise. Twenty-seven of the survivors remain hospitalized, health officials said.
Coast guard spokesman Nikos Alexiou, citing survivor accounts, said that passengers in the hold of the fishing boat included woman and children but that the number of missing, believed to be in the hundreds, remained unclear.
Officials at a state-run morgue outside Athens photographed the faces of the victims and gathering DNA samples to start the identification process.