One migrant dead, 24 missing in shipwreck near Spanish Canary Islands

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One migrant has died and at least 24 others are missing after a boat sank off the coast of Spain’s Canary Islands.

Spanish rescuers said they had received warnings from the Civil Guard that 61 migrants had left Western Sahara on a small boat.

Thirty-six people were rescued south of the island of Gran Canaria in the Atlantic Ocean, the coastguard said on Twitter.

The Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras had initially said that 27 people had “died” in the shipwreck, including “six children”.

A Spanish Coast Guard plane spotted the stricken boat and was assisted by two merchant vessels and a helicopter.

Authorities also rescued 80 other migrants after intercepting two other boats trying to make the dangerous sea crossing.

Spain remains one of the main entry points for illegal migrants trying to reach European soil.

A total of 6,359 migrants have arrived in the Canary Islands between 1 January and 15 April this year, according to Spain’s Interior Ministry. The number is almost 60% more than the figure in the same period last year.

In 2021, more than 40,000 migrants — mostly from Morocco — arrived by sea on Spanish land.

Meanwhile, at least 1,255 people died during Atlantic Ocean migrant crossings attempts last year — the highest since the United Nations International Organisation for Migration (IOM) began compiling records in 2014.

But Spanish NGOs estimate that the number of fatalities in 2021 was as high as 4,404 — twice as many as in 2020.

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