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Crippled cargo ship with 700 migrants is safely towed to waters just off southern Greek town

  • A Greek Red Cross volunteer lays out mattresses inside an indoor basketball stadium where authorities plan to temporarily host some 700 migrants on a crippled freighter being towed to the southern Cretan port town of Ierapetra, Greece, on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Hampered by gale-force winds, a Greek navy frigate was expected to arrive in Ierapetra late Wednesday with the migrants, believed to include refugees from Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

    A Greek Red Cross volunteer lays out mattresses inside an indoor basketball stadium where authorities plan to temporarily host some 700 migrants on a crippled freighter being towed to the southern Cretan port town of Ierapetra, Greece, on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Hampered by gale-force winds, a Greek navy frigate was expected to arrive in Ierapetra late Wednesday with the migrants, believed to include refugees from Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)  (The Associated Press)

  • En esta imagen distribuida por la Marina de Grecia el 25 de noviembre de 2014, el carguero Baris, a bordo del que viajan unas 700 personas, visto a unas 30 millas náuticas al sureste de la isla griega de Creta. (Foto AP/Hellenic Navy)

    En esta imagen distribuida por la Marina de Grecia el 25 de noviembre de 2014, el carguero Baris, a bordo del que viajan unas 700 personas, visto a unas 30 millas nĂ¡uticas al sureste de la isla griega de Creta. (Foto AP/Hellenic Navy)  (The Associated Press)

  • Greek Red Cross volunteers set up a tent which will be used to receive and offer initial care to hundreds of immigrants on a crippled freighter being towed to the southern Cretan port town of Ierapetra, Greece, on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Hampered by gale-force winds, a Greek navy frigate was expected to arrive in Ierapetra late Wednesday with the estimated 700 migrants, believed to include refugees from Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

    Greek Red Cross volunteers set up a tent which will be used to receive and offer initial care to hundreds of immigrants on a crippled freighter being towed to the southern Cretan port town of Ierapetra, Greece, on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Hampered by gale-force winds, a Greek navy frigate was expected to arrive in Ierapetra late Wednesday with the estimated 700 migrants, believed to include refugees from Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)  (The Associated Press)

Officials say a broken-down smuggling ship carrying 700 men, women and children trying to emigrate to Europe has been safely towed to just off the southern Greek island of Crete.

Authorities there are preparing to provide the migrants with temporary shelter.

The 77-meter (250-foot) Baris cargo ship appeared off the coastal town of Ierapetra around sunrise Thursday, still attached by cable to a Greek navy frigate that has been towing it for a day and a half through gale-force winds.

The Baris lost engine power early Tuesday 70 nautical miles from Ierapetra. Its passengers include refugees from war-riven Syria and Afghanistan.

The ship is expected to anchor offshore, and the migrants will be ferried in small groups to Ierapetra where authorities have set up a reception center in an indoor basketball stadium.