Spanish rescuers say 10 migrants have died while trying to reach the Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.
Rescuers said Monday they found a migrant boat drifting 200 kilometres from the Canary Islands and saved 40 people but recovered two bodies.
The boat is believed to have departed from Dakhla on the coast of Western Sahara five days ago. A Spanish rescue plane spotted it drifting in the Atlantic Ocean. At least five people had to be evacuated by helicopter to a hospital on the island of Gran Canaria for urgent medical attention. The other survivors were being brought back to the port of Arguineguín on the same island in one of Spain’s rescue ships.
The deaths on Monday were reported a day after eight other people died aboard another migrant boat en route to the Spanish archipelago. The Red Cross said one migrant died shortly after reaching land late Sunday.
Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service said more than 100 people have been rescued from migrant smuggling boats and brought to the Canary Islands in the last two days. So far this year, more than 17,000 migrants and refugees have reached the Canary Islands by boat, a 24% increase compared to the same period last year.
Some 900 migrants have reportedly died or gone missing on the dangerous migration route from West Africa to the Canary Islands, according to the U.N. migration agency. Experts say even that number is an undercount as many migrant ships sink with no confirmation.