Two migrants died trying to reach Spain’s Canary Islands on a boat transporting more than 30 people, AFP confirmed Thursday, the latest deadly incident involving the treacherous crossing.
The drifting vessel was towed to the port of Arguineguin on the island of Gran Canaria, where AFP journalists saw rescuers removing two bodies from the boat.
Previously, the Canaries’ 112 emergency service had tweeted that two migrants had to be treated at sea as they were “in a much more serious state than the rest of the group”, with one suffering from hypothermia and dehydration, and the other from an injury to the hand.
It was not clear where the boat had set off from, but Spain is one of the major gateways for migrants departing from North Africa seeking a better life in Europe.
The number of people attempting the sea crossing to the Canaries, an archipelago in the Atlantic off the coast of northwest Africa, has increased dramatically since late 2019 after checks on Mediterranean routes were tightened.
Spain’s interior ministry says that 16,827 migrants have arrived there by sea between January and October 2021 -- an increase of 44 percent from the same period in 2020.
But the route to the Canaries is particularly dangerous -- since the beginning of the year, some 900 people have died attempting it, according to the International Organization for Migration.