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3 dead, 45 survivors on migrant boat rescued off Canaries

By AFP - Aug 15,2022 - Last updated at Aug 15,2022

MADRID/ TUNIS — Spanish rescuers on Monday found three dead migrants and 45 survivors, mostly Moroccan and some in very bad condition, on a boat off Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, the coastguard said.

Rescuers from Salvamento Maritimo were called out to a boat in trouble off the island and reached the vessel just after midnight, a spokesman said.

He said the crew had found 45 survivors, 42 men, two women and a child, and three bodies.

"All those rescued were Moroccan, with the exception of one sub-Saharan African man," he told AFP.

The 112 emergency services said five of those on board were in bad condition, adding that six people had been taken to hospital.

In the first seven months of the year, 9,589 migrants survived the extremely dangerous sea journey from the coast of Africa to the Spanish islands in the Atlantic, compared with 7,531 a year earlier, interior ministry figures correct to July 31 show.

In the same period, sea arrivals to Spain's Balearic Isles in the Balearic Isles fell to 5,284 from 7,292 a year earlier.

Monday's rescue comes after a frenetic weekend for Salvamento Maritimo which pulled nearly 600 people to safety in waters off the Atlantic archipelago.

Migrant arrivals on the Atlantic archipelago have surged since late 2019 after increased patrols along Europe's southern coast dramatically reduced Mediterranean crossings.

At its shortest, the route from the Moroccan coast is around 100 kilometres, but migrants often come from much further afield, with the distance from Mauritania more than 1,000 kilometres as the crow flies.

The Atlantic route is notoriously dangerous because of strong currents, with migrants often setting sail in overcrowded ramshackle boats which are extremely unsafe.

Meanwhile, Tunisian authorities said Monday they intercepted or rescued over 200 migrants trying to reach Europe by sea at the weekend, including an entire extended family from the economic crisis-hit country.

The coastguard on Sunday night thwarted 10 attempted crossings, bringing ashore 156 would-be new arrivals in Italy, the national guard said.

Two-thirds of them were from sub-Saharan Africa and the rest were Tunisians.

Defence ministry spokesman Mohamed Zekri told AFP that 42 Egyptians who had set sail from neighbouring Libya were rescued Sunday off Kerkennah, central Tunisia, after their boat sank and they took refuge on an oil platform.

After a similar incident in the same zone the previous weekend, 10 Tunisian migrants were feared to have drowned while 20 were saved.

Tunisian authorities also said 15 members of a family from Hammamet in central Tunisia, including five women and four small children, were prevented from heading out to sea on Friday night.

Tunisia and Libya are the main points of departure for migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa.

Tunisia is in the throes of political and economic crises, and Libya has been gripped by lawlessness since 2011 that has seen militias turn to people trafficking.


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