Spanish police have arrested two men suspected of "steering and navigating" a migrant boat that capsized last week off the Spanish Canary Islands archipelago. Four bodies were recovered following the accident.
"Police have arrested the two skippers of the boat that arrived last Thursday off the coast of Lanzarote island" said a police statement, reported by the news agency Agence France Presse (AFP).
The boat overturned last week, just as it was approaching Lanzarote. Later, search and rescue teams recovered four bodies, including two women, one of whom was "visibly pregnant," and a young boy, maybe aged around eight, reported AFP.
Police said the two suspects had been identified by some of the 41 survivors of the accident as "being responsible for steering and navigating the boat." The police statement added that they were being held "on suspicion of encouraging illegal immigration and reckless homicide."
According to AFP, so far this year, a total of 89 people have been detained on similar charges. The Atlantic crossing from the coast of western Africa towards the Atlantic island group is one of the most dangerous migration routes in the world. The UN Migration Agency IOM's Missing Migrants Project estimates that at least 131 people have perished since the beginning of the year.
Exact figures are difficult to come by since many people do not announce they are leaving, sometimes even to closest relatives. What's more, the boats often leave clandestinely at night to avoid patrols or detection.