Five African migrants die trying to reach Spain’s Canary Islands

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Five African migrants have died trying to reach Spain’s Canary Islands by boat, officials said on Friday, two days after another vessel was spotted near the archipelago with 15 dead migrants on board.

A Spanish air force patrol plane detected the boat about 110 miles (180 kilometers) southeast of the island of Gran Canaria and alerted Spain’s maritime rescue service which intercepted the vessel, a spokeswoman for the service said.

Rescuers found 12 people on board, several of them in poor health, and four bodies, she added.

Two of the migrants were evacuated by helicopter to a health center in Gran Canaria, where one of them later died.

Spain’s maritime rescue service discovered a boat near the island on Wednesday with 15 dead migrants on board.

At the beginning of the month at least 27 migrants who were trying to reach the Canaries died when their vessel failed off the coast of Mauritania.

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Illegal migration to the islands, in the Atlantic Ocean west of Morocco, has risen over six-fold this year to 3,448 people as of August 16, despite a 26.6 percent drop in overall seaborne arrivals to Spain, according to interior ministry data.

Migrant rights groups say heightened security across the Mediterranean is likely driving more migrants to risk the perilous Atlantic crossing.

A total of 239 migrants have died trying to reach the Canaries between January 1 and August 19, compared to 210 during all of last year, and just 43 in 2018, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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