Cyprus Mail

Migrant boat in Paphos takes off without departure permit (updated)

The boat when it docked originally

The vessel with 61 irregular migrants which was intercepted a day earlier, departed Kato Paphos port late on Thursday without a departure permit, authorities said.

According to the spokesman of the Paphos police department, the ship is sailing south of Greece in a westerly direction to Italy and is being monitored by Greek naval vessels.

Authorities were mobilised around 7pm on Thursday to track down and re-apprehend the 61 irregular migrants who tried to abscond on the same boat which police had intercepted a day earlier and had led to shore.

Marine police located the vessel out at sea and intercepted it around 8.30pm. By the time they were discovered, the migrants had not made it far out of the port of Kato Paphos, where their boat had been tethered since Wednesday.

After locating them, an attempt was made to persuade them to return, but police said they insisted on their intention to go to Italy.

The Paphos spokesman told the Cyprus News Agency, the migrants left despite rough seas and “the efforts of the port and maritime police to protect the migrants by leading them to safe havens, they continued their journey to the southwest”.

Coast guard boats accompanied them until they exited territorial waters of the Republic of Cyprus.

The boat was spotted on Wednesday morning off the coast between Pissouri and Paphos. Police rendezvoused with the boat and escorted it into the port in Kato Paphos.

The group of migrants consists of 11 women, 22 men and 28 children aged between two and 16, reportedly Syrian and Lebanese nationals.

They had spent Wednesday night aboard their vessel.

The migrants said they were headed from Lebanon to Italy, but that they approached the Cyprus coast due to the bad weather.

Civil defence offered them food, water and blankets.

Consultations were understood to be underway on whether to send them back to Lebanon, under a return agreement between Nicosia and Beirut.

The group said there was no smuggler among them and that they had purchased the boat and were steering it themselves.


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