Cypriot police rescue nine immigrants in drifting boat

NICOSIA, May 28 (l — Cyprus’ marine police on Tuesday rescued nine unregulated immigrants, who were spotted drifting off the most northwestern spot of the eastern Mediterranean island, a statement said.

The statement said their boat, which had set off from the Turkish port of Mersin days ago, was carried by the sea currents after its engine broke down.

The nine men, all believed to be Syrian, told the police that they paid a trafficker 2,500 euros each to bring them to Cyprus, where they said they had relatives to stay with.

However, when the five-meter boat reached close to the Cypriot territorial waters the trafficker boarded another boat and returned to Turkey, living the nine men in the drifting boat.

The boat was towed into a fishing port, where the immigrants were processed and later were taken to a refugee center near the capital Nicosia.

The nine men are but a small number of an estimated 1,000 unregulated immigrants who arrive in Cyprus every month, mostly from Turkey, police said.

Authorities have repeatedly said that Cyprus, along with Greece, top the list of EU countries with the biggest number of unregulated immigrant arrivals.


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