Around 40 migrants are feared dead after rescuers recovered a lone woman clinging to an overturned dinghy off the Canary Islands, Spain’s Coastguard said Thursday.
The 30-year-old woman, who was found lying next to two bodies, was reported to be ‘in a bad state’, a coastguard spokesman said.
She told her rescuers she had begun the crossing from the African continent with ‘about 40 people’.
The woman, who was suffering from severe dehydration, was airlifted to hospital in Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria
The coastguard had been alerted by another boat which had spotted the woman about 250 kilometres from the Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa.
The two bodies found next to her on the overturned boat were also recovered and brought ashore, the spokesman said.
Weather conditions were reported to be bad at the time. It was not immediately clear where the boat had embarked from.
Last year, more than 23,000 migrants reached the Canary Islands, eight times more than the previous year, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry.
In the first seven months of 2021, 7,531 migrants have arrived in the Canaries, more than twice as many as in the same period in 2020.
According to the International Organisation for Migration, 850 migrants died or disappeared on the route to the Canary Islands in 2020.
Arrivals of migrants in the Canaries, after a perilous crossing from North Africa, have increased dramatically since late 2019 after checks on Mediterranean routes were tightened.
The Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras says at least 1,851 people lost their lives last year while attempting the crossing.
In April, 17 migrants were found dead in a boat drifting off the coast of Tenerife with three survivors airlifted to hospital.
The victims – all sub-Saharan Africans – were found drifting off El Hierro in Spain’s Canary Islands, officials confirmed.
A Spanish military helicopter airlifted three survivors – two men and a woman – to a hospital on the island of Tenerife.
One of the men was in serious condition with ‘severe dehydration’.
It comes as migrant arrivals to the archipelago surge despite the deadly dangers of the crossing.
A Spanish air force plane first spotted the boat some 265 nautical miles southeast of El Hierro.
In the same month, four people were found dead in a makeshift boat that was found south of El Hierro, with 23 migrants on board.
At its shortest, the sea crossing to the Atlantic islands from the Moroccan coast is around 60 miles.
But it is a notoriously dangerous route because of strong currents. Vessels are also typically overcrowded and in poor condition.
Source: UK Daily Mail
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