ATHENS — Two Turkish men who apparently flew right across the Aegean Sea in an ultralight aircraft to seek asylum in the European Union have been rescued after they ran out of fuel and ditched their small plane off the Greek island of Evia, officials said Monday.
The men, ages 32 and 31, were helped out of the water by local fishermen Saturday, and taken for first aid to a health center on Evia, just off the central Greek mainland. Greek media said the men identified themselves as political dissidents in Turkey and were planning to seek asylum. They were arrested for illegal entry.
A coast guard statement said they told authorities they had set off from near the coastal city of Izmir in western Turkey — about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from where they crashed — for Athens, from where they had planned to travel on to some other European country.
Also Monday, the coast guard said in a statement that 28 asylum-seekers were found off the southeastern Aegean Sea island of Rhodes after an air and sea search and rescue operation triggered by a distress call Sunday.
EU-member Greece is a major entry point for people fleeing conflict or poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Most attempt the dangerous crossing by sea from Turkey to Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, in unseaworthy boats provided by migrant-smuggling rings.
Greek police said Sunday that a migrant was killed by gunfire at the Greece-Turkey land border while she and several others attempted to cross a river separating the two countries. It was unclear from which side of the border the fatal shot came, or who fired it.