Fifty Syrian refugees rescued at sea

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Albanian military and police ships have saved 50 Syrian refugees trapped by bad weather as they tried to reach Italy by boat.

The packed inflatable boat was found on Friday evening at the Vjosa River delta, south of Tirana, where it had been blocked for about three hours due to high waves in the Adriatic Sea, Albanian police said.

No one was believed to be missing.

Two decades ago the route was regularly used by local traffickers to take poor Albanians to Italy.

The Balkanweb.com media portal said the 50 Syrian migrants, including women and children, were found after one of them called police to say the boat was stuck due to bad weather and an engine problem.

Sixteen migrants, including three children, were hospitalised.

The migrants allegedly had paid up to 2000 Euros ($A3,148) each for the illegal transport toward Italy. Police did not find the traffickers.

Albania, a NATO member since 2009 and hoping to launch EU membership negotiations soon, cooperates with the European border agency Frontex to control its southern borders with neighboring Greece, from where most of the migrants arrive.

Although it has not been a major transit route for migrants through Europe so far, small groups have tried crossing it.