Cypriot marine police rescued 21 migrants by towing their flimsy boat into port after receiving a report, the ministry of defence said on Monday.
“A marine patrol boat was dispatched to investigate after a freighter informed the local search and rescue center.
“The migrant boat was drifting 40 nautical miles in moderate seas off the southeast Cape Greco, about 200 km from Syria or Lebanon from where they are believed to have sailed.
“A helicopter was also put on standby in the event sea conditions worsened,’’ a ministry statement said.
Police said there were 10 men, two women and nine children aboard.
The boat was towed into Larnaca port six hours after the alert was raised, where the migrants were processed before being taken to a refugee host centre close to Nicosia.
This was the fourth refugee boat which was spotted in the same area southeast of Cyprus, bringing the total number of refugees who arrived by sea to about 275 so far this year.
Cyprus is home to about 15,000 refugees who have arrived in the last few years, a large number given relative to the population of the eastern Mediterranean island which is just over one million.
The Cypriot government has alerted the European Union to the increasing influx of refugees, saying it has reached its limits to deal with the problem.