Albanian Daily News
Two immigrants die in Greece

Albanian Economic Tribune - Jan 18, 2000

ATHENS - Police discovered two dead and 20 exhausted Eastern European women trying to illegally enter Greece on Saturday across an icy mountain pass.

The frozen bodies of Romanian Mirela Stan, 24, and Ukrainian Hatira Antilsova, 29, were recovered Saturday and the 20 other young women were detained, officials said.

The women were found on rugged Mount Belles, 415 miles north of Athens. They had walked from neighboring Bulgaria through snow for three days, but were stranded when smugglers failed to meet them on the Greek side, officials said.

State-run NET television said most of the women were not properly dressed for subfreezing temperatures and that the group included three girls aged 15, 16 and 17.

"They survived by eating snow," said Maria Nalbati, a hospital official in the nearby city of Serres, where two of the survivors were being treated. "They were extremely tired. They hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for three days," Nalbati said.

Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from Asia and Eastern Europe cross into Greece each year, sneaking over remote border passes or on to hundreds of islands in the Aegean Sea. They remain in Greece to find work or make their way to other European Union countries.

Smuggling rings have been linked to illegal Greek labor networks, which supply sweat shops, brothels and substandard construction projects.

At least 31 illegal immigrants have died trying to enter Greece in the last three months, killed in truck crashes, by hypothermia or after wandering into mine fields along Greece’s border with Turkey.

Police said many of the women detained Saturday had previously been deported from Greece. They said the group was from Romania, Ukraine and Moldova, while the nationality of the two hospitalized women was not known.

The women will be deported back to Bulgaria.

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