Two more migrants have died trying to reach Spain's Canary Islands on a boat carrying 30 people, news reports confirmed Thursday. This is the third deadly incident off the Canary Islands since Sunday, bringing the number of confirmed deaths up to 13.
The drifting vessel was towed to the port of Arguineguin on the island of Gran Canaria on Thursday (November 18), according to news agency AFP. Rescuers transferred two bodies from the boat.
Previously, the emergency service of the Canary Islands had announced on Twitter that two migrants had to be treated at sea as they were "in a much more serious state than the rest of the group." One was said to be suffering from hypothermia and dehydration, and the other from an injury to the hand.
It was not immediately clear where the boat had set off from. However, the Canary Islands are one of the major gateways for migrants departing from North Africa, and nearly all journeys start in Dakhla or Nouadhibou in the territory of Western Sahara, from where the distance to the Canary Islands is up to 775 kilometers away.
13 bodies in five days
This is the third deadly incident on this migration route in recent days: On Sunday (November 14) eight people died aboard a boat en route to the Spanish archipelago, and another person died shortly after reaching land late on Sunday. One day later, in a separate incident, rescuers said they found a migrant boat drifting 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the Canary Islands, saving 40 people but also recovering two bodies from the boat.
The number of people attempting to reach Europe from the coast of northwest Africa has increased dramatically since late 2019 after checks on the more common Mediterranean routes had been tightened. According to the Spanish interior ministry, 16,827 migrants have arrived on the Canary Islands by sea between January and October 2021. This marks an increase of 44% compared to the same period in 2020.
According to the Spanish labor union, Confederación General de Trabajo (CGT), the Spanish Maritime Rescue service (Salvamento Marítimo) rescued 8,300 migrants on the Atlantic route off the Canary Islands between January 1 and mid-November. The CGT is the main union representing the search-and-rescue service. Its secretary general, Ismael Furió, on Wednesday warned that the rescue service was severely understaffed in light of the increase in migrant arrivals to the islands, local news outlet canarias7 reported.
The route to the Canaries is particularly dangerous due to the large distance, strong currents, and cold weather. Since the beginning of the year, some 900 people have died during the crossing, according to the International Organization for Migration.
With AFP, AP