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Monday, May 20, 2024  
11 Dhul-Qadah 1445  

Body found after migrant boat sinks off Spain’s Canaries

The dinghy begged for rescue in Spanish waters for more than twelve hours
Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Rescue workers recovered the body of a minor and plucked 24 other migrants from the Atlantic Ocean off Spain’s Canary Islands after their dinghy sank on Wednesday, a Spanish coast guard spokeswoman said.

Spanish non-profit group Walking Borders, which works with migrants in peril and provides assistance to their relatives, said a total of 39 people had drowned.

A Spanish coast guard helicopter sent to the area in response to a request for help from Moroccan authorities found the body of the minor but saw no other survivors, the coast guard spokeswoman said.

A Moroccan patrol boat rescued 24 people, she said, adding she did not know “how many people were on board the vessel” in total.

But Helena Maleno, of Walking Borders which tracks migrant deaths, said on Twitter that 39 people had died, including four women and a baby.

The boat had waited for over 12 hours for assistance, she added.

Contacted by AFP, there was no immediate reactions from Moroccan authorities.

The shipwreck happened about 160 kilometres (100 miles) southeast of the island of Gran Canaria.

The migrant route from West Africa to the Canary Islands across the Atlantic has become more popular in recent years as authorities have cracked down on illegal migration in the Mediterranean.

The Atlantic Ocean is particularly infamous for its strong currents, which makes such trips extremely perilous.

Rescuers on Tuesday found the body of a pregnant woman on board a boat that was carrying some 50 migrants off the Canary Islands.

Spain is a major gateway for migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

Over 11,200 migrants have died or disappeared since 2018 while trying to reach Spain by sea, according to a report published by Walking Borders at the end of 2022.

Last week at least 82 migrants died when the boat taking them from Libya to Italy capsized off the coast of Greece.

Authorities still have no clear idea how many people were aboard the boat when it sank – estimates range from 400 to over 700 – making it one of the deadliest accidents shipwrecks involving migrants in the Mediterranean.

Over 30 feared dead as dinghy bound for Spain’s Canary Islands sinks

More than 30 migrants were feared dead after a dinghy headed for Spain’s Canary Islands sank, two migration-focused organizations said on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Alarm Phone reported the boat was taking on water and three passengers were dead, adding: “We demand immediate rescue, do not let them down!”

Neither Spain’s coastguard nor the Moroccan authorities would confirm how many people had been on board the vessel or how many might be missing.

A Spanish coastguard source told Reuters that an operation carried out by Morocco some 88 miles to the southeast of Gran Canaria island rescued 24 people.

The body of one child was recovered by the Spanish maritime rescue service and sent by helicopter to Gran Canaria, a Spanish coastguard source added, as Moroccan authorities requested their help.

The coastguard later tweeted that a second body had been found by a merchant ship, the Navios Azure, without giving more details.

Morocco’s Interior ministry has not responded to Reuters request for comment and Morocco has not made any official communication about what happened.

“The dinghy had been begging for rescue in Spanish waters for more than twelve hours. Among the survivors, 24 people, 22 men, 2 women, are being transferred to Cap Boujdour,” Maleno of Walking Borders said on Twitter.

The islands off the coast of West Africa have become the main destination for migrants trying to reach Spain, with a much smaller share trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to the Spanish mainland.

At least 5,914 people reached the Canary islands between Jan. 1 and June 15 this year, according to Spanish government figures, a 31.5% drop compared with the same period in 2022. The early summer months is a peak time for migrants to seek to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

A pregnant woman also died this week onboard a dinghy as she tried to reach Spain. Spain’s coastguard said on Tuesday the woman’s body was found on a vessel carrying 42 men, seven women and three children near the Atlantic coast of Lanzarote.

On Monday, another trawler spotted a migrant boat near Mogan, in Gran Canaria, with 53 people on board. Three of them were in poor health, the coastguard said.

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boat capsize


migrants ship

Helena Maleno

Walking Borders

Gran Canaria