20 Oct 2009

Canada detains 76 people on cargo ship

1:37 pm on 20 October 2009

Canadian authorities have detained 76 people found on a cargo ship off the Pacific Coast on Friday.

Immigration officials are examining their status.

Officials say the vessel appears to have been trying to reach Canada, but it's not yet clear where it sailed from.

The BBC reports the 76 young men are thought to be Tamils from Sri Lanka. They are being held at a detention centre near Vancouver.

It is the first case of suspected people smuggling off Canada's Pacific coast for a decade.

They were on a freighter, the Ocean Lady which was intercepted by a Canadian navy frigate on Friday and taken to Vancouver Island. They were transported to the mainland on Sunday.

The BBC reports Canada has one of the largest expatriate Tamil communities in the world, numbering around 300,000.