Greece tows Turkish ship carrying 400 migrants to shores

Greece has towed to its shores a Turkish-flagged cargo ship carrying nearly 400 migrants and refugees after Turkey failed to respond to a request to take back the vessel, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Sunday.

The Murat 729 was towed to "a safe anchorage'' off the Greek island of Kos near the Turkish coast, it cited Greece's coast guard as saying, two days after it sent a distress signal following  engine failure in international waters.

The mostly-male migrants, mostly Afghan nationals, have been transported to a reception centre on the island and will be quarantined and tested for COVID-19, according to Deutsche Welle.

Six members of the group have been detained for questioning, the Greek Migration Ministry said.

Athens and the European Commission had contacted Turkish authorities in a bid for Turkey take back the vessel, but with no response, DW said.

Turkey - home to some 3.7 million migrants - and Greece - a gateway for migrants looking to enter further into Europe - have long been at odds over migrant issues and the countries share mutual concerns regarding a possible Afghan refugee crisis following the Taliban takeover of the war-battered country in August.

The Murat 729 set sail "obviously with the knowledge of the Turkish coast guard" and that Ankara had "once again failed to comply with its responsibilities toward the European Union," DW cited Greek Merchant Marine Minister Giannis Plakiotakis as saying on Saturday.

Turkey and EU in 2016 agreed on a deal that aimed to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving into Greece. According to the deal, the EU promised the allocation of 6 billion euro in aid to Turkey to be provided in two instalments, which would be used for projects to help migrants.

This block is broken or missing. You may be missing content or you might need to enable the original module.