MADRID ( Associated Press) – Emergency services on Spain’s Canary Islands say 319 people, including 59 women and 24 children, were rescued from seven separate boats trying to reach the archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, while activists say At least 18 migrants have died.
A spokeswoman for the Maritime Rescue Service told the Associated Press that Spanish rescue ships reached the boats at different locations late Tuesday and early Wednesday.
Walking Borders, a non-governmental organization working with migrants in the region often contacted by people in distress or their relatives, said at least 18 people traveling on a boat had died. It was done
The NGO’s founder, Helena Maleno, wrote in a tweet: “Rescues activated too late despite the boat’s location.”
A Marine Rescue Service spokeswoman, who was not authorized to be named in media reports, said that during an operation late Tuesday, rescuers found nine people clinging to an overturned boat 45 nautical miles off Lanzarote Island , but there were no dead bodies or people. were found lost. She said the rescue boat had to make another distress call soon after.
The archipelago’s emergency service, 112, said of the 319 survivors, nine adults and one child were transferred to local health facilities on Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, another nearby island.
Most of those rescued were believed to be from North and Central Africa, which at its closest point is only 100 kilometers (60 mi) east of the Spanish Isles.
Migratory rescues, boat arrivals and tragedies involving drowning or dehydration at sea are almost constant on this dangerous migration route, perpetrated by many Africans fleeing violence or poverty. Official figures show that more than 22,000 migrants arrived in the Canary Islands last year, which is almost half of the total arrivals by sea recorded by Spain.
According to the International Organization for Migration, at least 384 died in 2021 trying to get to the Spanish mainland or its islands via the western Mediterranean.
But Walking Borders, which collects evidence from survivors and relatives of victims, says because boats are often not found and bodies are never found, a more accurate estimate is 4,404 deaths in 2021.
Follow all Associated Press stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.