CEO of the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea Jean-Yves Perrot poses near the research vessel 'Le Suroit' in La Seyne-sur-Mer, south eastern France on September 20, 2012
CEO of the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea Jean-Yves Perrot poses near the research vessel 'Le Suroit' in La Seyne-sur-Mer, south eastern France on September 20, 2012 © Anne-Christine Poujoulat - AFP/File
CEO of the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea Jean-Yves Perrot poses near the research vessel 'Le Suroit' in La Seyne-sur-Mer, south eastern France on September 20, 2012
AFP
Last updated: October 8, 2013

French research ship rescues Syrian refugees

Banner Icon A French oceanographic vessel that helped find the wreck of the Titanic rescued 29 Syrian refugees on Sunday, part of a group of 363 asylum-seekers that have landed in Italy in the past 24 hours.

Le Suroit brought the Syrian migrants to the port of Pozzallo in Sicily on Monday, where 171 others from the same refugee boat were also brought by a Dutch cargo vessel, the Abis Albufeira.

"The number of people was impressive," said Jean Rene Glehen, the captain of Le Suroit, said in an email from his ship received by AFP.

"They were very tired but seemed in relatively good health," he said, adding that they had sufficient food, water and their own life jackets.

Le Suroit, which took part in the operation that discovered the Titanic off Newfoundland in 1985, is carrying out a geological survey on seismic activity and the risk of tsunamis off Sicily.

Le Suroit is operated by Ifremer, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea.

"The oceanographic vessel and the cargo ship were in the area and came to the rescue," a coast guard official in Pozzallo told AFP on Monday.

The latest arrivals come after a refugee boat sank off Italian shores on Thursday, with more than 300 African migrants feared dead and 155 rescued.

Some 30,000 migrants have landed in Italy so far in 2013 -- more than four times the number in 2012.

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