Spanish authorities are searching for migrants on three boats missing in the Atlantic Ocean. Another boat capsized on Tuesday en route to the Canary Islands. 14 people, including two children, reportedly died.
A Spanish civil guard plane was searching on Wednesday for three boats reported missing off the islands of Lanzarote and Fuertaventura, Earlier, authorities had said they were trying to locate 143 migrants in five boats, but one had returned to Dakhla in southern Morocco and another had been rescued off Gran Canaria.
Authorities were alerted about the missing boats on Monday afternoon by Alarm Phone/Watch the Med, a hotline and monitoring group for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. The group reported on Twitter on Tuesday that one of the boats had capsized. Fourteen migrants, including two children, lost their lives, survivors said.
Helena Maleno, an activist who founded the group Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders) said she had spoken to one of the survivors of the shipwreck, the Spanish daily el diario reported on Wednesday. The paper says there had been 28 people on board before it capsized, mostly from Guinea and Ivory Coast.
Baby among rescued migrants
25 migrants in the other boat located on Tuesday were taken to the port of Arguineguin on the island of Gran Canaria by a Spanish coast guard vessel, according to the Reuters news agency. The group included 16 men, eight women and a nine-month-old baby.
Some of the migrants were dehydrated, had stomach pains and needed hospital treatment, said Gerardo Santana, the local head of the Red Cross. The boat had apparently set out from Cape Bojador in the territory of Western Sahara.
Last week, Spanish rescuers picked up 87 migrants in three different boats, including a baby who had been born just before the rescue.
The Canary Islands, about 100 km from the African coast, are part of Spanish territory. According to the Spanish interior ministry, more than 700 migrants arrived on the islands in January alone. At least 210 people died on the route last year, UN migration agency (IOM) reports.