Migrant boat ‘smuggler’ detained

The migrants found drifting in a small boat off the coast of Paphos on Thursday night are in good health and have been transported to the Kofinou Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers.

A 41-year-old man identified as one of the people operating the boat, registered in Turkey, was on Friday detained in custody for eight days. Police have confirmed he is a Syrian national.

However, the search continues for a second man, identified by the refugees as a Turkish national thought to be the boat's owner, who, according to the refugees, left on a second vessel allegedly to get more fuel, but never returned.

According to a police report, the 28 people found on board are all Syrian nationals and include six women and three children. A report has also listed one of the families as being of Kurdish origin.

The report said the boat was first spotted on radar at 4.30pm on Thursday. At 6pm, a police boat was sent out to inspect the vessel, reaching it at 7.25pm.

They found it to be drifting after running out of fuel. On the instruction of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC), a second police boat was sent out to help get the refugees to shore.

The transportation process took place between 8.30pm and 10.40pm, resulting in the 19 men, six women and three children safety reaching Latsi Harbour.

The refugees comments to the authorities so far indicate they had been heading for Cyprus when their boat was spotted.

Some have said they worked in Cyprus in the past or have relatives here. A number even spoke to the authorities in Greek after being brought ashore at Latsi late on Thursday night.

The refugees said they began their perilous journey from Alanya, Turkey on Tuesday, March 29, each paying Euros 2,000 to be brought to Cyprus.

A number said they had traveled to Alanya from Syrian towns including Latakia and Aleppo.

The boat ran out of fuel the following day, Wednesday, March 30, and had been drifting until being spotted by the Cyprus authorities.

Two young women and a little boy were transported to Polis Hospital after being taken ashore on Thursday night but were released after being provided first aid.

They then returned to Polis Habour Police headquarters where the other refugees had been waiting. Three buses transported then transported the group to Kofinou, in the Larnaca district.

Source: In-Cyprus