Cypriot authorities have transferred 83 Syrians who were towed into the east Mediterranean island aboard a boat with no captain to a reception center, a police spokesman said Friday. Spokesman Michalis Ioannou told the Associated Press the Syrians said they set off from Mersin, Turkey late Wednesday, paying an average 2,000 euros ($2,177) per person for a spot on the boat.
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The refugees included 37 children. One family paid as much as 10,000 euros for the trip, Ioannou said. They will remain at the reception center until their status is determined, he said. The passengers said the captain abandoned the boat during the journey after being picked up by another vessel.
Cypriot authorities spotted the ungoverned boat and towed it to a small harbor on the island’s northwestern coast early Friday. The police spokesman said some Syrians expressed a desire to leave for the European continent, while other said they wanted to stay in Cyprus.
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Cyprus lies around 100 miles (160 kilometers) off Syria’s Mediterranean coast but has not seen the large of inflow of refugees that Greece has. Ioannou said this was the fourth boat of Syrian refugees that has reached Cyprus’ northwestern coast in the last three months.