NICOSIA (AFP) – A cruise liner was diverted off Cyprus Thursday in the rescue of about 300 people thought to be Syrian refugees whose trawler ran into trouble in rough seas.
The trawler, crammed with mainly women and children, had sent out “a radio distress signal” at 6.25am (0325 GMT) when it was about 50 nautical miles southwest of the tourist hub of Paphos, the Cypriot government said.
“On board the ship are about 300 people (mostly women and children) that require recovery and rescue because of bad weather conditions in the area,” said the defence ministry.
“The ship probably comes from Syria with civilian refugees,” it said in a statement.
Aerial photographs released by the ministry showed a large fishing trawler overloaded with people in heavy seas.
State radio said that two police patrol boats had been dispatched and a cruise liner diverted to the location after a warning that the boat was in danger of sinking.
Based on marine traffic data, two vessels were diverted to the distressed boat: the 157-metre Cypriot cruise ship the Salamis Filoxenia and the Maltese-flagged tanker the Minerva Joy.