Two boats carrying over 100 migrants were reported missing in the Alboran Sea Tuesday. The Spanish charity Caminando Fronteras has since reported that one boat has returned to Morocco while the other was accompanied by the Spanish maritime rescue service to Motril in Spain.
The Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras was alerted Tuesday morning by family members of migrants who were lost at sea, AFP reports. The charity then sent out an alarm and informed authorities of two boats missing carrying a total of 111 migrants.
Patrol boats and helicopters dispatched by the Spanish maritime rescue service (Salvamento Maritimo), Spanish police and the Moroccan army searched for the missing persons in harsh weather conditions, a spokesperson of Salvamento Maritimo told media.
Helena Maleno Garzón, a Spanish activist and the founder of Caminando Fronteras, wrote on Twitter that one boat carrying 53 migrants included 4 women and one child. Maleno was in contact with family members who relayed to her what migrants onboard the boat were saying: "We have lost three comrades, and we are at our limit."
A few hours later, both boats were located. Camindano Fronteras wrote that four people from the boat with 53 migrants had gone missing and that four others had been evacuated to be hospitalized. The remaining migrants were transferred by the Spanish maritime rescue service to Motril in southern Spain.
The second boat with 58 migrants, according to Camindano Fronteras, returned to Morocco "by its own means."
According to the Spanish interior ministry, at least 8,065 migrants have arrived in Spain since the beginning of the year, down 6.6 percent from the same period last year. 543 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea so far in 2019, the UN agency for migration IOM reports.
In 2018, 2299 people died crossing the Mediterranean, and 3139 died in 2017. (The Alboran Sea is the Western part of the Mediterranean.)