Sri Lanka boat people caught off Spain

Chandi Dharmaratne

PUERTO DE LOS CRISTIANOS, Spain, Sept 17, 2006 (AFP) – A second boatload of some 200 clandestine immigrants from Asia has been spotted on its way to the Canary Islands, this time from Guinea Bissau, police said here Saturday. “It’s carrying around 200 Asians and probably left from Bissau,” Agustin Brito Machin, secretary general of the Spanish police confederation, told AFP, adding: “It is just over a day’s sailing time from the Canary Islands.”

Spanish naval patrol boats were heading out to intercept the vessel, Brito said. He was unaware if contact had already been made.

“We will try to avoid it entering Spanish waters, but otherwise we’ll send it to another island than Tenerife,” the official said.

A first unflagged boat carrying 165 illegal Asian immigrants, mostly from Pakistan but also from Sri Lanka, was intercepted Thursday south of Tenerife and towed to Santa Cruz.
Its passengers, who had spent five days without food or water, are in a port depot awaiting repatriation.

Five Africans suspected of being crew members were arrested and charged with trafficking in humans.

Despite a wave of arrivals earlier this year Spain’s interior ministry says more than 53,000 immigrants who tried unsuccessful