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Major rescue operation after migrant boat capsizes

A boat carrying hundreds of refugees and migrants has capsized off the Greek coast, sparking a major rescue operation, Greek authorities have said.

According to The Associated Press, more than 300 people have been lifted from the semi-sunken boat in the Mediterranean, which overturned around 75 nautical miles south of Crete in international waters, while three bodies have been recovered.

A boat capsized off the coast of Libya yesterday Credit: Reuters

It comes after the Italian navy rescued hundreds of migrants from a boat which capsized off the coast of Libya yesterday.

A spokeswoman for the Greek coastguard said hundreds more could still be in the water.

"People are in the water, boats crossing the area have thrown lifebuoys and are moving to save the migrants," she added.

It was not immediately clear where the boat, described as a fishing-style vessel of around 30 metres (98ft) in length, had come from, where it was headed, or where its passengers had originated.

Two Greek patrol boats and two helicopters have been sent to the scene, while four ships which had been sailing nearby were also taking part in the rescue operation.

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At least 300 migrants injured after violent clashes at Macedonia border

At least 300 migrants have been injured after violent clashes with authorities at the Macedonian border with Greece, charity Médecins Sans Frontières‎ (MSF) said.

Authorities in Macedonia have been accused of using "dangerous and deplorable" force against migrants protesting at the Greece's border town Idomeni.

"The situation was extremely tense this morning, when tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades were used in the camp to disperse crowds. The MSF teams treated 300 people, among them 200 with respiratory problems after being subjected to teargas," the charity said in a statement.

Police sources say tear gas was fired only after migrants stormed towards a border fence on Sunday.

The EU is now deporting new arrivals to Greece back to Turkey if they don't meet asylum criteria after agreeing a deal with the country.

Migrants throw stones at Macedonian police during clashes at the border Credit: Reuters
A protesting migrant runs with a teargas canister to throw it over a border fence towards Macedonia Credit: Reuters
An injured migrant is carried away from the protest at the border Credit: Reuters

Second boat takes 79 migrants to Turkey from Greece

A second boat has left the Greek island of Lesbos taking 79 more migrants to Turkey as part of a deal to return those crossing the Aegean Sea to enter Europe.

Turkish ferry which transported migrants from Greece to Turkey Credit: Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters

One woman was among those on board the Turkish ferry, which left Mytilene port in Lesbos.

Another Turkish ferry carrying 45 migrants left the port earlier.

The migrants sent to Turkey today were mainly from Pakistan.

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Greece restarts migrant returns under EU-Turkey deal

The ferry on Friday morning carried 45 migrants Credit: APTN

Forty-five migrants were taken by ferry from Lesbos to Turkey as Greek authorities restarted returns under an EU deal to stem the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe.

The ferry left the port of Mytilene on Friday morning, with a second boat expected to leave later, state television reported.

Two protesters at the port jumped into the sea and began swimming towards the boat and were pulled out of the water by the Greek coastguard.

The first group of 202 migrants to be returned, most of them from Pakistan and Afghanistan, were sent back to Turkey on Monday.

UK will offer Greece more support to help deport migrants

The prime minister Credit: PA

The Prime Minister has offered to provide more help to Greece as it struggles to return migrants to Turkey.

The EU-Turkey agreement to tackle the migrant crisis took effect on Monday but Greek authorities have warned the operation is threatened by a shortage of personnel.

A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Cameron spoke to Mr Tsipras on the phone on Tuesday afternoon.

The Prime Minister welcomed the start the Greek authorities had made to returning migrants to Turkey under the agreement, and reiterated the importance of breaking the link between people making the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean and securing settlement in Europe... The Prime Minister confirmed that additional UK personnel would be offered to Greece over the coming weeks to provide additional support.

– A Downing Street spokesman

Pope Francis to visit Lesbos on Greece trip this month

Pope Francis will visit Greece this month. Credit: PA

The Pope is to visit Greece, including the island of Lesbos, the Government there has confirmed.

Pope Francis and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch will visit the area on April 14 and 15, ITV News producer Maria Kagkelidou said.

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