A small fishing boat with nearly 350 people on board was rescued from rough seas off Paphos on Thursday, BBConline reports.
A cruise ship responded to a distress signal sent by the fishing boat after spotting the distressed boat 55 nautical miles (100km) south of the town of Paphos. Most of the passengers are believed to be Syrian refugees.
The Cypriot Ministry of Defence said 52 children were on the small fishing boat that had sent a distress signal. They were taken aboard the ship, ‘Salamis Filoxenia’, Limassol port master Girgos Pouros said. All those on board were rescued and are said to be in good health.
“It was quite a difficult operation,” Kikis Vasiliou, director of Salamis Cruises that owns the cruise ship, was quoted as saying by the ‘Cyprus Mail’ website.
There has been a dramatic increase in refugees crossing the Mediterranean in overcrowded boats, in particular those fleeing from Syria. Most have headed for Italy and Malta.
Libya, in a state of upheaval has become a major centre for human trafficking, Cyprus, however, lies closer to Syria.