Israeli Cruise Ships Headed Home After Alert

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NICOSIA - Two Israeli cruise liners diverted to the port of Limassol because of a security alert on Friday were due to leave the island yesterday, Cypriot authorities said.

Cypriot Coastguard Chief Antonis Shakallis said extra security measures had been taken on land and around the coastline while the two ships docked off the island.

"We have taken extra security measures, we have increased our staff at sea and land at the ports," Shakallis told the Cyprus News Agency.

Shakallis said he expected the ships to head back to the Israeli ports of Haifa and Ashdod, although he could not confirm this.

On Friday Israel ordered cruise ships headed for Turkey with 3,500 Israeli passengers to change course to other ports because of a specific security threat.

Israel Radio said a "terror alert" prompted Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit to instruct the Israeli-flag vessels sailing from Haifa to stay away from the Turkish port of Alanya, where they had been due to arrive later in the day.

Two of the vessels, the Iris and Jasmine, operated by Haifa-based Manos Cruises, were diverted to the Cypriot port of Limassol.

Another ship, the Mirage 1, docked at Larnaca late on Friday night. Larnaca is a scheduled stop for the vessel.

A fourth Israeli ship, the Dream Princess, docked at Larnaca early yesterday, again as part of a scheduled stop. Both vessels were also due to leave Cyprus yesterday afternoon.

Cypriot security sources earlier said the Israeli vessels were ordered to keep away from Alanya because Israeli authorities deemed the security measures there to be unsatisfactory.



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