Spain says 14 rescued at sea, correcting earlier report of deaths

Fourteen people were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea off the Balearic Islands on Monday, Spanish authorities said, correcting an earlier report that 11 dead bodies had been found.

An ambulance leaves the port of Palma de Mallorca as Spanish rescuers pulled 14 people to safety, in the sea off the Island of Cabrera, on Mallorca Island on October 4, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

"A total of 14 people have been found off the island of Cabrera, all of whom are alive," authorities said in a statement released in the evening.

Rescuers were still searching for three people who may have been on board the "makeshift boat", typical of those used by migrants to cross the Mediterranean.

Some of the boat's occupants said that 17 people were on board and that some had thrown themselves into the water, Spanish authorities said.

"Eleven people have arrived," the Red Cross's Marga Morcillo told AFP, adding that three of them had been taken to hospital with "serious burns, dehydration and injuries".

"They told us that they had spent 12 days at sea and that there were 17 of them, and we have no more information at the moment," she said.

Of those rescued, three were recovered from the water and evacuated by helicopter, nine others were found on board the boat and two were rescued by the occupants of a pleasure boat that had alerted the rescue services.

"No dead people have been found for the moment," the authorities' statement said.

The earlier death toll had been caused by "confusion" and "communication problems", Spanish authorities said when contacted by AFP.

The local authorities had earlier reported "around 17 bodies" discovered by the sailboat around 14:00 GMT "west of Cabrera Island". They later said that three people had been rescued and 11 bodies recovered.