A pregnant Algerian mother and her five children were among 91 migrants rescued off the coast of Alicante in southeastern Spain overnight, the Red Cross said on Tuesday.
The sea route to mainland Spain and its Balearic and Canary Islands is frought with danger, with the International Organization for Migration saying at least 1,025 people have died in 2021 in “the deadliest year on the migratory route to Spain.”
The woman “was eight months pregnant,” a Red Cross spokeswoman told AFP, saying she had been taken to hospital suffering from stomach pains, while her five children were with their father.
Most of the arrivals were from Algeria although one boat was carrying refugees from Syria, she said.
“The first boat was found near Santa Pola with four women and six minors on board, including a baby of seven months while the others were between four and six,” she said.
Of the 23 on board, “most of them were Syrians.”
A spokeswoman for the Salvamento Maritimo coastguard said five vessels had been found in total, while the rescue of a sixth was underway.
All of the boats were thought to have set sail from the Algerian coast, which at its closest lies around 270 kilometers (170 miles) by boat from Alicante.
Last week, the bodies of eight migrants, among them three women and a child, washed up on the shores of southern Spain near the city of Almeria, the local authorities said. The boats had likely set off from Morocco or Algeria.
Spanish interior ministry figures to September 14 show that a total of 10,701 migrants have managed to reach mainland Spain or the Balearic Islands by sea.
They also show 11,060 people reached the Canary Islands from the coast of west Africa, more than double the 5,090 in 2020.
Figures from Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish NGO that monitors SOS calls from migrants at sea, suggest that more than 2,000 people have died or gone missing on the Atlantic route this year.
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