THE hunt for a suspect mother ship carrying illegal immigrants continued off the Balearics yesterday while the first steps to repatriate the nine immigrants arrested in Ibiza on Wednesday were taken by the authorities.
Seven are due to be moved to a detention centre in Valencia today but two will remain in Ibiza while the police try to establish their age.
If they are minors, as suspected, then they will remain on the island in the care of the social services until their parents are located and informed.
Social services have a window of nine months to locate the parents.
If they fail, the minors will be their responsibility.
Balearic President Francesc Antich was yesterday forced again to play down claims that the Balearics has become a new port of entry for illegal North African immigrants looking to slip into Europe. He said he has full faith that central Government will take all the necessary action to help the Balearic security services to get a grip on the situation.
Three boats of illegal immigrants have reached Balearic shores in the last week. But this latest incident has set alarm bells ringing because all nine immigrants were in poor health and two of them may be the first child immigrants to have reached the islands.
Yesterday, the opposition Partido Popular accused the Balearic and central Governments of ineptitude and urged the authorities to live up to their responsibilities and get a hold of the situation.