Syrian migrants rescued off Latsi harbour in Paphos late Wednesday are expected to be transferred to a refugee camp outside Nicosia on Thursday.

The  Cyprus` Joint Rescue Coordination Center JRCC said that it received information on Wednesday about a small fishing vessel with 120 – 150 persons on board, possibly in distress north of Polis Chrysochous.

Following intense search operations by the 460 SAR SQN helicopter and the effective use of the thermal cameras of the JRCC, the small vessel finally was located 10 NM northwest of the village of Pomos.

The JRCC immediately activated the special National Search and Rescue plan “NEARCHOS”, by engaging an additional helicopter of the 460 SAR SQN with a registered nurse of the Ministry of Health on board and a fast patrol boat of the Latchi Port and Marine Police, which deployed to the area and executed the Rescue Operation. Medical services and the Civil Defence were on alert to provide medical care and support to the survivors at the fishing haven of Latchi.

During the operation, all 123 passengers of the small vessel were rescued, 62 men, 19 women and 42 children. Some of the migrants were taken to hospital, among them a woman who had given birth on the boat. The rest spent the night in accomodation at Polis Chrysochous. On Thursday morning they were taken to the local police station for registration.

Assisting the efforts, through the national plan “NAFKRATIS”, were the Police, Immigration Department, medical services, Civil Defense, asylum service and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The boat is believed to have set off from Turkey.

Civil Defence said the Kokkinotrimithia refugee camp near Nicosia is ready to receive the migrants. Police investigations so far indicate that nine illegal migrants that were previously deported from Cyprus were among the people rescued.

In statements, migrants said that the boat`s captain left on the jet ski that was towing the boat. Each had paid 2200 dollars and families 5000 dollars for the trip to Cyprus.

In statements to CNA, Polis Chrysochous mayor Angelos Georgiou Odiseos expressed concern over the increasing arrival of boats carrying migrants. He said Polis does not have the necessary infrastructure of people to handle the increasing arrival of migrants.

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