Second boatload of Iraqi Kurds arrives in Sweden

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The Independent Online
STOCKHOLM (Reuter) - Eighty-one Iraqis were brought ashore on the Swedish Baltic island of Gotland on Saturday after travelling for three days in stormy weather in a small boat from the Latvian capital of Riga, coastguards said.

It was the second unexpected influx of Iraqi Kurds in four days, after another Latvian vessel packed with 391 people landed on the Baltic island on Wednesday. Coastguards intercepted the 100-ft boat on Saturday after a Gotland inhabitant reported seeing it moored off the east coast port of Ljugarn.

'It is unbelievable to think of people making this voyage in such weather in such a boat,' said the coastguard commander, Folke Gustafsson.

One man who had tried to swim to land was taken to hospital suffering from severe exposure, and a coastguard vessel escorted the refugee boat north to Slite, where the 391 Iraqi Kurds had landed on Wednesday. The three-man crew of the second boat, described by coastguards as an old Soviet military craft, were detained pending possible charges of breaking Sweden's immigration laws.

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