Cyprus cruise liner helps rescue 300 refugees| MENAFN.COM

Friday, 01 July 2022 04:14 GMT

Cyprus cruise liner helps rescue 300 refugees

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) A cruise liner was diverted off Cyprus Thursday in the rescue of about 300 people thought to be Syrian refugees whose trawler ran into trouble in rough seas.

The trawler crammed with mainly women and children had sent out “a radio distress signal” at 6:25 am (0325 GMT) when it was about 50 nautical miles southwest of the tourist hub of Paphos the Cypriot government said.

“On board the ship are about 300 people (mostly women and children) that require recovery and rescue because of bad weather conditions in the area” said the defence ministry.

“The ship probably comes from Syria with civilian refugees” it said in a statement.

Aerial photographs released by the ministry showed a large fishing trawler overloaded with people in heavy seas.

State radio said that two police patrol boats had been dispatched and a cruise liner diverted to the location after a warning that the boat was in danger of sinking.

Based on marine traffic data two vessels were diverted to the distressed boat: the 157-metre Cypriot cruise ship the Salamis Filoxenia and the Maltese-flagged tanker the Minerva Joy.

The Salamis Filoxenia had been en route from the Greek island of Syros to the Cypriot port of Limassol at the time it received a call to assist in the rescue operation according to the data.

Its operator said later that the cruise liner’s crew was taking on board those from the stricken trawler.

The staff were providing medical supplies food and water and blankets Salamis Cruise Lines managing director Kikis Vasiliou told the radio.

Earlier the defence ministry said that state medical facilities had been notified to prepare for an influx of people from the boat without saying anything about their condition.

Authorities in Cyprus expect the cruise ship to dock in Limassol at around 9:00 pm (1800 GMT).

State radio cited Cypriot Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos as saying that the refugees would be taken to a military camp outside the capital Nicosia until a decision is made on their future.

In August 2012 seven Syrians including two children drowned when the boat which they were sailing to Cyprus to escape the conflict in their homeland sank off the island’s northern coast.

Cyprus is located about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the shores of war-ravaged Syria.

The Mediterranean has been plagued by shipwrecks in recent months involving migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa and the Middle East.

In one of the deadliest wrecks on record a ship carrying some 500 migrants — including Syrians Palestinians and Egyptians — was deliberately sunk by traffickers off Malta earlier this month leaving just 10 known survivors.

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