Nearly 140 migrants have reportedly entered Greece in 24 hours

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Nearly 140 migrants have reached Greek shores over the past 24 hours, making the dangerous sea voyage across the Mediterranean Sea, authorities said Friday. One man, who had set off from North Africa, drowned off the southern island of Crete.

Greece, along with Spain and Italy, is a key entry point for people from the Middle East or Africa who are seeking a better life in the European Union. To get to Greek shores, most make the risky crossing in flimsy boats from neighboring Turkey or Libya.

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Greece's coast guard said 34 men and three boys were rescued on Thursday by a passing merchant vessel some 95 miles south of Crete after issuing a distress signal.

Greek flag

The Greek flag is photographed cast against a clear sky. (Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A coast guard statement Friday said one more man who had been on the boat fell into the sea and drowned, according to other survivors and the ship's captain. All survivors were taken to Crete. They told authorities they had set off from eastern Libya on Tuesday.

Also Thursday, authorities found 51 men, eight women and 19 children on a beach near Monemvassia in southeastern mainland Greece. It was unclear where they had departed from, but the area is on a smuggling route from Turkey to Greece or Italy.

In separate incidents on Thursday and Friday, authorities picked up 22 people from an islet off the southeastern island of Symi. The coast guard said they had paid smugglers to ferry them over from nearby Turkey.

Nearly 16,000 people have reached Greece so far this year, mostly by sea. In 2023, arrivals exceeded 48,000.

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Spain has received the highest number of migrants and refugees in the EU so far this year with more than 21,000 arrivals, according to United Nations data.

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