Four migrants were found dead on arrival when a boat carrying 47 migrants landed in Tenerife at dawn, Spanish coast guards said Tuesday. Three others were hospitalized with burns and other injuries.
"This morning a boat carrying 47 sub-Saharan migrants landed on El Cabezo beach in (southern) Tenerife. Red Cross medics have confirmed four deaths," a statement by the Spanish emergency services said, citing Red Cross officials.
Three migrants were hospitalized with dehydration and chemical burns caused by the mixture of sea water and motor fuel.
A total of 47 migrants were on the boat. Among the 43 survivors are one woman and 17 youths believed to be minors, the local news outlet Canaria7 reports.
The Canary Islands have seen a surge in migrant arrivals throughout last year. The number of undocumented migrants arriving on the islands by boat in 2020 was more than eight times higher than in 2019, according to the Spanish interior ministry. A total of 23,023 migrants landed on the islands in 2020 compared with 2,687 who arrived in 2019.
The high number of arrivals has overwhelmed local facilities, and thousands of migrants had to live in makeshift tent camps before being transferred to hotels or camps set up by the military.
Perilous Atlantic journey
According to the UN migration agency IOM, hundreds of people died last year attempting to cross from the African continent to the Spanish archipelago. The Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras said late last month that overall, nearly 2,200 migrants died trying to reach Spain by sea in 2020, of which 1,851 – or 85 percent – died en route to the Canaries.
The shortest route to the islands is more than 100 kilometers from the Moroccan coast. But the crossing is highly dangerous because of strong currents, and the boats used by migrants to make the crossing are typically overcrowded and in poor condition, AP reports.
With Reuters, AP, Canaria7