SIX Algerian immigrants who were rescued from their four-metre long wooden boat and brought to Alicante in the early hours of yesterday morning after being spotted off the coast of Ibiza will be repatriated in the next few days.

The six men, aged between 20 and 35, were waving their hands and looking for help when they were spotted by a merchant ship some 83 nautical miles from the Alicante coast on Wednesday evening.

The Spanish marine rescue service initially tried to airlift the men by helicopter before they decided to bring them ashore on one of their support ships instead. The ship was escorted into the port of Alicante by a Guardia Civil vessel where the immigrants were taken ashore and given check ups by the Red Cross. All six were given a clean bill of health.

The immigrants told members of the Red Cross that they had left Algeria two days before being rescued. In their boat was discovered lifejackets, food, a lantern, a compass, as well as two drums, one containing fuel.

According to Antoni Bernabé, the Spanish Government's representative in Valencia, the rescue service's actions had been “completely normal”. “What we mustn't do is create alarm,” he said, adding that the “the process of repatriation has already begun”.

Bernabé said those rescued would be repatriated in the coming days like all those who had arrived on Valencian shores and been returned to their countries of origin. He added that new patrols and mobile radars were helping detect immigrants.