Spanish authorities search for a missing migrant after the boat on which he is thought to have traveled capsized off southern Spain | Photo: ANSA / EPA
Spanish authorities search for a missing migrant after the boat on which he is thought to have traveled capsized off southern Spain | Photo: ANSA / EPA

One migrant is still missing and at least four people have died after a migrant boat capsized off the southern coast of Spain on Wednesday. At least 12 people survived the shipwreck. They were rescued by a nearby merchant ship and the emergency services.

Spanish maritime rescue services are continuing the search for at least one migrant thought to be missing after the boat they were traveling on capsized off the southern coast of Spain. At least four people, including a young boy, lost their lives in the accident.

The authorities were alerted to the disaster after a nearby merchant ship, named by local Spanish online news source Murcia Today as Express Versuvius, picked up a man from the water. The man told the crew of Express Versuvius that he had been on board a dinghy with at least 17 others.

Salvamento Marítimo, the Spanish maritime rescue services, then started "scouring the sea for the remaining passengers," reported Murcia Today.

One of those who died in the tragedy was a young boy, who was picked up from the sea alive but died shortly afterwards from hypothermia at the local hospital.

Searches continue

A Spanish helicopter picked up eight more migrants from the waves, "although one of these passengers passed away while on board," according to Murcia Today. A further ship, the Salvamar Draco picked up four more migrants, bringing the total number of those rescued to 12.

At least one more person remains "unaccounted for," according to reports from Murcia Today and news agency ANSA, and search efforts are continuing. All survivors and those who died were transferred to the Spanish port city Escombreras. A local government spokesperson, Valle Miguelez, said that the she would like to convey her condolences to the families of the victims.

"The loss of a human being is a terrible thing, and more so in the circumstances in which these people who embark on a small boat are forced to seek a better life," Miguelez told Murcia Today.

Missing migrants

Tens of thousand of people try to reach Spain on small boats every year. They attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean to the Canary Islands, or the western Mediterranean to the Spanish mainland and Balearic Islands. The majority of people who arrive in Spain without documents set off from Morocco.

So far this year, more than 13,000 migrants have arrived in this way in Spain, most of them via the Mediterranean or Atlantic.

At least 64 people have lost their lives trying to cross the western Mediterranean since the beginning of the year, according to the UN Migration Agency IOM’s Missing Migrants project. These figures were last updated on June 3, and thus do not include the latest shipwreck.

Many of the deaths at sea occurred in January and February this year and several of them not far from the latest shipwreck, in positions along mainland Spain’s southern coastline.

Last year, more than 43,000 migrants arrived in Spain without documents (nearly 42,000 via boats), and at least 418 migrants were reported dead or missing enroute to Spain.


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