Authorities: At least 6 migrants drown off Morocco coast

Rescued migrants on the deck of an Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) patrol boat reach out for bottles of water being distributed by a soldier in a biohazard suit after arriving at the AFM's Maritime Squadron base at Haywharf in Valletta's Marsamxett Harbour, January 22, 2015. (File Photo: Reuters)

At least six would-be migrants drowned when their boat capsized near Melilla, the Spanish enclave in Morocco, authorities said Friday.

Another 10 people were rescued from the water after the boat overturned off the Moroccan town of Nador, five kilometers (three miles) from Melilla.

The vessel was said to be carrying 20 would-be migrants and two smugglers.

The flow of migrants hoping to reach Europe via Melilla and its sister enclave, Ceuta, swelled last year due to conflicts in Syria and Iraq as well as unrest in parts of north Africa, officials say.

In December, more than 100 migrants scaled a perimeter fence to enter Melilla.

The same month, nine people, including three babies, drowned when their boat capsized off the Moroccan city of Tangiers.

The number of undocumented migrants entering Melilla surged to more than 4,600 by year-end, compared with 3,000 in 2013, Spain’s interior minister said.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43