Rescue operation under way for migrant boat off Cyprus

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-14 22:18:23|Editor: ZX
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NICOSIA, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Cypriot authorities mounted a major rescue operation on Tuesday after a boat carrying more than 100 irregular immigrants was spotted off the southeast coast of the eastern Mediterranean island, the police said.

A police statement said the boat was spotted at about 11:30 a.m. local time (0930 GMT) sailing in rather rough seas about 20 nautical miles off Cape Greco.

It added that a patrol boat was dispatched to meet and escort the 33-meter-long refugee boat to the nearest facility, a fishing port in the region of the Protaras tourist area of Cyprus.

"Members of the police, the Marine Police, the Immigration Service, the Civil Defense and an ambulance staffed with medics are waiting for the immigrants to provide needed services," the statement said.

Officials said the immigrants, who are believed to come from Syria, will be processed at a local police station and will later be taken to refugee hosting centers.

The arrival of the large group of immigrants will put even more pressure on overcrowded refugee facilities of Cyprus, a European Union member country with the largest concentration of immigrants in relation to its population.