Hundreds rescued from boat off Cyprus

Cruise ship picks up 345 people, thought to be Syrian refugees, stranded on a boat in rough seas.

    Photos taken from an army helicopter showed the ship in distress [AP/Cyprus Defence Ministry]
    Photos taken from an army helicopter showed the ship in distress [AP/Cyprus Defence Ministry]

    A cruise ship returning from Greece has picked up hundreds of people, apparently Syrian refugees, who were stranded aboard a small boat off Cyprus, officials said.

    The cruise liner Salamis Philoxenia was directed to the area to offer assistance on Thursday morning after Cypriot authorities picked up a distress signal from the boat, which had hit rough seas off the coast of the eastern Mediterranean island.

    All of the 345 passengers, including 52 children, were picked up and the Cyprus defence ministry said in a statement that the rescue operation has been "completed smoothly and without any injury".

    All passengers were in "good health", according to George Ppouro, the harbour master in the Cypriot port of Limassol.

    On Thursday morning, authorities received a distress signal from the vessel sailing about 50 nautical miles (92km) south-west of the town of Paphos, on Cyprus's western coast.

    Photos taken from a Cypriot army helicopter showed dozens of people sitting on the main deck of what appeared to be a commercial trawler. Weather conditions in the area were bad.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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