Cypriot authorities say weather conditions did not allow some 300 refugees stranded at sea to be transported to the island, with officials calling on another nearby ship which picked everyone up and brought them to the island. taken to Turkey.
According to local media, the Cyprus Joint Rescue Coordination Center received a distress signal from a ship some 110 nautical miles west of Paphos on Monday.
A Cypriot helicopter, which flew to the area to assess the situation, flew over the boat and alerted the headquarters in Larnaca according to JRCC Commander Andreas Charalambides.
The cargo ship Paolo Topic, which was en route to Turkey and responded to the distress call, picked up the irregular migrants but sailed to its original destination instead of detouring to Limassol
Charalambides told state radio Tuesday morning that the 60-foot wooden boat sent out a distress signal Monday afternoon after experiencing engine trouble.
The official said that in addition to the helicopter and another coastguard vessel, two Greek navy vessels were also jammed. But after eye contact with the boat, the JRCC looked at other nearby vessels to call for help.
“Due to the size of the boat and the weather conditions, we have issued an alert to other vessels nearby,” Charalambides said.
Local media said the cargo ship Paolo Topic, an ultra-max bulk carrier which was en route to Turkey and responded to the distress call, picked up the irregular migrants but sailed to its original destination instead of make a detour via Limassol.
Additional information said the wooden boat, which was carrying many women and children among hundreds of passengers, had left Lebanon for Italy three days earlier.
A few hours after the initial rescue, another similar boat carrying a large number of irregular migrants was spotted around 10.20 p.m., about 30 nautical miles off Larnaca.
Reports indicate that a total of 177 suspected refugees, including 67 women and children, have been rescued by Cypriot authorities.