Times of MaltaA group of 106 illegal immigrants were yesterday brought ashore after their rubber dinghy began taking in water at about 3.30 p.m.

The armed forces said 87 men and 19 women, were taken aboard a patrol boat after they were found drifting 42 nautical miles southwest of the island after their engine stopped.

An aircraft on patrol also flew over the illegal immigrants to establish exactly what assistance was needed.

However, although they were crammed on to the dinghy, they were all in good health. The illegal immigrants, who were brought ashore in the evening and handed over to the police, claimed to be Eritreans.

There were no children on board.

This first boatload in two months, this brought the total number of illegal immigrants brought ashore this year to 1,131, arriving in 12 boats. In the same period last year, 2,568 arrived in 82 boats.