• Thursday, Feb 02, 2023
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30 missing, 30 others rescued from migrant boat off Canary Isles

  • Published at 01:04 pm August 31st, 2021

At least 8,222 migrants have arrived in the Canaries since the start of the year, more than twice as many as the same period in 2020.

Around 30 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were believed lost at sea trying to cross to the Canary Islands, while more than 30 others were rescued by the coastguard, Spanish officials said Tuesday.

Rescuers from Salvamento Maritimo said they had found 32 migrants on board a dinghy off the island of Fuerteventura in the early hours of the morning, as well as the body of one person.

Survivors said the boat had been carrying around 60 people when it set sail, a source at the Spanish government delegation told AFP.

Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish NGO that monitors SOS calls from migrants at sea, said two boats had gone missing -- one carrying 42 people and the other carrying 59 -- and there was some confusion as to which one had been found. 

Spokeswoman Siham Korriche told AFP there was contradictory information, with some survivors speaking of "12 or 14 people" missing.

Also Read - Bangladeshis among 539 rescued from migrant boat off Italian island

"Both boats are inflatable, they left from the same area on the same day, so we don't know which boat was found," Korriche said, adding they had left from Tan-Tan in southern Morocco, and that the NGO was trying to contact the families.

Last week, another 11 went missing from another dinghy carrying nearly 40 people that tried to make a similar crossing. The Spanish coastguard plucked 28 people to safety. 

Several hours later, the bodies of three women were found in the same area off the island of Lanzarote. 

And on August 19, the coastguard rescued a woman clinging to an overturned dinghy who told her rescuers that about 50 migrants were aboard the dinghy when it departed.

The number of people trying to reach the Atlantic archipelago by boat has increased dramatically since late 2019 after checks on Mediterranean routes were tightened.

Also Read - What drives Bangladeshis to the perilous Mediterranean route to reach Europe?

Last year, just over 23,000 migrants reached the Canary Islands, the highest number since 2006 and eight times more than in 2019, interior ministry figures show.

And the flow has not stopped, with figures to August 15 showing 8,222 migrants have arrived in the Canaries since the start of the year, more than twice as many as the same period in 2020.

According to the International Organization for Migration, at least 428 migrants died or disappeared on the route to the Canary Islands between January 1 and August 20 -- 102 more than in the same period last year.

But according to data compiled by Caminando Fronteras, the number of those missing presumed dead at sea is far higher, reaching 1,922 in the first six months of the year. 

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