Greek coastguard rescues 85 migrants in Aegean Sea

ATHENS (AFP) - Greece's coastguard on Thursday rescued a group of 85 undocumented migrants including women and children from a sailing ship in the southeastern Aegean Sea, officials said.

"The migrants are currently being transferred to other vessels and will be taken to the island of Astypalaia," a coastguard spokeswoman told AFP.

Coastguard spokesman Nikos Lagadianos had earlier told Skai TV that the rescue process had been complicated by hail and high winds.

"We gave them food and water and they are not in danger," Mr Lagadianos told the channel.

"There are small children and women among the migrants," he said, adding: "It was a major operation that lasted all night." The nationalities of the immigrants were not immediately clear.

Greece is one of the main ports of entry into the European Union for migrants and refugees fleeing war-torn and impoverished countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.

Refugee traffic has soared over the past year because of the ongoing war in Syria. Arrivals by sea have increased owing to stricter controls on the Greek-Turkish northern land border.