Over 100 migrants land on British base in Cyprus

Around 120 migrants crowded in two boats landed on a British sovereign base on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus on Wednesday, military officials told AFP.

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 21, 2015, 15:37 PM IST

Nicosia: Around 120 migrants crowded in two boats landed on a British sovereign base on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus on Wednesday, military officials told AFP.

Personnel at the Royal Air Force base at Akrotiri, near the island's second city Limassol, said those who came ashore included women and children and all were in good health.

British authorities could not say whether they were refugees fleeing Syria or whether Cyprus was their intended destination.

"There were two boats carrying around 120 people, there are no reports of anyone being unhealthy and we are trying to establish where they came from," a British bases spokesperson told AFP.

Akrotiri -- from which British planes are carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq -- lies in one of two base areas over which Britain retained sovereignty when Cyprus won independence from colonial rule in 1960.

As the migrants landed on British territory, the migrants' status on the island is unclear.

European Union member Cyprus lies just 100 kilometres (60 miles) off the coast of Syria but has so far avoided a mass influx of refugees from the country's conflict, with most preferring to bypass the island.

In September, 115 refugees, including 54 women and children, were rescued from a small fishing boat that ran into trouble about 40 nautical miles off the southern port of Larnaca.

Last year, 345 Syrian and Palestinian refugees were rescued by a cruise liner in stormy waters off the island's coast.

Two months later, about 220 Syrian refugees crammed onto a fishing boat were rescued off the coast of Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus after hitting rough seas.