Immigrant boat aground off France
SAINT-RAPHAEL, France (CNN) -- A boat carrying more than 1,000 illegal immigrants, most of them believed to be Iraqi Kurds, has run aground off southern France.
Officials said about 100 people from the boat -- which ran aground about 20 metres from the shoreline -- reached Boulouris beach between the town of Saint Raphael and the French Riviera resort city of Nice. There were no apparent injuries among them.
A regional official told CNN the ship called last at Turkey, but that the port of the embarkation of the Cambodian-registered vessel was still unknown.
The official said rescue workers were at the scene, where the most of the passengers, many of whom are frail and elderly, remain on board the ship. Medical teams were being sent.
"The sea was beautiful. The sky was clear. The reasons for the boat to have run aground are unknown," said Francois Villat, a spokesman for the regional maritime authority.
However, other officials said they believed the vessel was deliberately beached.
"The captain has fled, leaving the boat facing land, the propellers turned, so that the boat cannot drift away. It was professional work," Georges Ginestat, the mayor of Saint-Raphael, told The Associated Press news agency.
Serge Ortis, head of a civil protection agency in the region, said there appeared to be no serious health problems among the refugees.
But he said their general physical condition was "deplorable" since they were forced to remain standing during the voyage in the hold of the vessel. Many may also be suffering from malnutrition.
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