WORLD Young boy found dead in migrant boat off Spain

WORLD

Young boy found dead in migrant boat off Spain

AFP

20:04, October 25, 2021

A young boy was found dead in a migrant boat off Spain's Gran Canaria island that had dozens roughly 50 people on board, including two babies and over 20 women, officials said Monday.

Migrant crossings from North Africa into Spain have surged this year, with many people risking their lives on dangerous boat journeys across the Mediterranean.

In the latest incident, a Spanish coastguard boat intercepted the seven-metre (23-foot) long boat carrying around 50 sub-Saharan African migrants on Sunday night southwest of the holiday island, a coastguard spokesman said.

Rescuers found the body of a boy aged "around" five on board the boat along with 23 women and five minors -- two babies, two six-year-olds and a seven-year-old, he added.

The five minors and two adults were evacuated by helicopter to Gran Canaria and taken to hospital where they were in "serious" condition with hypothermia and dehydration, local emergency services said.

The remaining migrants were taken to the port of Arguineguin, in the south of Gran Canaria, to be processed.

At least 887 migrants, including 60 children, have died trying to reach Spain's Canary islands off northwest Africa since the start of the year, more than double the number last year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Migrant arrivals on the Canaries have surged since late 2019 after increased patrols along Europe's southern coast dramatically reduced crossings to the continent via the Mediterranean.

A total of 14,720 migrants arrived at the archipelago between January 1 and October 15, nearly twice the number that arrived during the same time in 2020, according to interior ministry figures.

The shortest route to the islands is more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the Moroccan coast, but it is notoriously dangerous due to strong currents.

Seperately, police said they had arrested seven people in northern Spain suspected of smuggling African migrants who arrived in the country into France.

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