ATHENS, Greece - Greek authorities have launched a large search and rescue operation following a distress call from a vessel carrying dozens of migrants, which was caught in a powerful storm that battered western Greece with hurricane-force winds and heavy rain.

Coast guard officials said at least three merchant ships reached the area where the vessel, believed to carry more than 50 people, was reported in trouble off the southwest Peloponnese region.

They had not found any trace of it by late afternoon.

Authorities said the powerful tropical-like storm named Ianos battered western islands, causing flash flooding, property damage, power outages, and road closures.

The storm with winds exceeding 110 kilometres per hour (70 miles per hour) reached the western mainland Friday.