11 migrants missing near Spain’s Canaries

12
Madrid

Eleven migrants are missing at sea after a night-time rescue Wednesday of nearly 30 others from a partially submerged rubber boat off the Canaries Islands, Spain’s coast-guard said.

A coast-guard vessel plucked 28 North African migrants, including two women and two children, to safety in the early hours of Wednesday but survivors said it had set out from Morocco with 39 on board, a coastguard spokeswoman said.

“The boat was partially submerged and there were people clinging to it or in the water nearby when rescuers arrived,” she said.

Several hours later the bodies of three women were found in the area east of the island of Lanzarote by the coast-guard and a fishing boat, she added. They are “probably” among the missing migrants, the spokeswoman said.

Among those who were rescued, a child and three men were taken to hospital with hypothermia, local emergency services said on Twitter.

Last week rescuers recovered a lone woman clinging to an overturned dinghy near the Canary Islands which lie off the northwest coast of Africa.

The woman told her rescuers that about 50 migrants were aboard the dinghy when it departed.

Migrant arrivals in the Canaries have increased dramatically since late 2019 after checks on Mediterranean routes were tightened.

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.—AFP

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