NICOSIA, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) — A group of 17 Syrian refugees were rescued by Cypriot marine police overnight, a statement said on Tuesday.
It said the group included 11 men, one woman and five children aged between three and 15. One three-year-old girl was taken to hospital with a fever condition.
The statement said the refugee vessel was spotted on radar 50 nautical miles off the southeastern coast of Cyprus and a police boat was then sent to reach it.
The rescuers said they had to transfer the 17 refugees on board their boast as it was considered too dangerous to tow the five-meter fibre glass vessel in high waves.
The statement said the refugees told authorities that they all intend to seek asylum in Cyprus.
They said they sailed from Lebanon on Monday after paying a trafficker 1,000 euros each to take them aboard.
The refugees were picked up after darkness fell and arrived later at the southern city of Larnaca.
They were processed by local police and were later led to a refugee centre near the capital Nicosia, which hosts hundreds of people who arrived recently in boats which had also sailed from Lebanon.
Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides told a conference in Nicosia on the weekend that with almost 16,000 people arriving over the past few years, the small eastern Mediterranean island has reached its capacity in caring for refugees.
He said that considering its just over 1 million population, Cyprus is the third European Union country with the biggest number of refugees.