This Article is From May 11, 2016

Police Rescue Migrants From Icy Danish Waters

Police Rescue Migrants From Icy Danish Waters

Two of the migrants tried to swim to an artificial island that is part of the Oresund bridge that connects Denmark with Sweden.

Copenhagen: Two migrants were in hospital after authorities rescued them from icy waters off Denmark as they tried to reach Sweden to ask for asylum, Danish police said today.

They were part of a group of four men who attempted to cross on Monday the strait between Denmark and Sweden, where the water is around eight degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit).

"There were two who were taken to hospital after the rescue operation," police spokesman Henrik Svejstrup told local Danish broadcaster TV 2 Lorry.

"One was put on a respirator, but we expect him to be taken out of the coma" later today, he added.

Many migrants perceive Sweden as a more attractive destination than Denmark, where measures to reduce immigration have included passing a law that allows police to search asylum seekers for valuables.

Before setting out, the group had been staying at an asylum centre some 25 kilometres (16 miles) northwest of Copenhagen. Police said two of the migrants were from Morocco.

The four men had tried to sail to Sweden but ended up on the sparsely populated island of Saltholm, around four kilometres off the Danish coast, after their boat sank.

Two of the migrants knocked on one resident's door, prompting her to call police on Monday.

"They asked if they were in Sweden, and said that they wanted to apply for asylum," the chairman of a local group for residents and farmers, Dirch Jansen Schmidt, told news agency AFP.

"She told them they were still in Denmark. She gave them two glasses of water and then they left," he added.

Two of the migrants -- police did not say which ones -- then tried to swim to an artificial island that is part of the Oresund bridge that connects Denmark with Sweden.

The other two were standing in the water off of Saltholm's shore, Copenhagen police said in a statement.

This was not an isolated case of migrants trying to reach Sweden, which registered 163,000 asylum applications last year and is known for its generous asylum policies.

Danish authorities said earlier this month that between January 4 and April 13, 46 people had tried to walk through a train tunnel leading to the Oresund bridge.

Sweden on January 4 began requiring rail, bus and ferry companies to verify the identities of people travelling from Denmark, significantly reducing the number of migrants who are able to enter the country to claim asylum.

Since a spike in applications last year, Stockholm's centre-left government has said it would introduce temporary residence permits and make it harder to obtain family reunifications.