Scores of migrants rescued in Cyprus after boat runs aground

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Around 175 migrants, including many women and children, were rescued off Cyprus on Friday after their boat ran aground, police said.

The vessel was tracked sailing off Cyprus’s north-west coast. Authorities said those on board were being escorted to a nearby harbor. The nationality of the migrants and their port of departure were not immediately clear.

In September, more than 300 Syrian refugees arrived in the same area, a patchwork of jurisdictions that borders on the ceasefire line splitting Cyprus between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, with a United Nations ‘buffer zone’ in the middle.

The waves of migrants fleeing neighboring Syria have largely skirted the island, but there has been an increase in landings in recent months.

Earlier on Friday, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said 850 people had made illicit landings in Cyprus so far this year, compared with 345 in 2016.

Reporting By Michele Kambas; editing by John Stonestreet