A boat found adrift on Tuesday near the coast of one of the Canary Islands (Spain) with the corpses of 24 migrants on board arrived on the island of Tenerife on Wednesday, official sources said. a new balance sheet. A Spanish rescue ship towed the boat to the port of Los Cristianos, where the rescue services were waiting.
“The firefighters take out the bodies, which will be transported to a funeral home,” said Domingo Martin, of the Spanish Red Cross. The maritime rescue services initially reported a death toll of 17. But the count made once the boat arrived in port revealed a death toll of 24, including two minors.
Eight times more migrants in one year
A Spanish Air Force plane had initially spotted the boat on Monday morning, some 500 kilometers southeast of the island of El Hierro. A military helicopter then hoisted three people still alive on board (two men and a woman) to a hospital in Tenerife. “They were so weak that we had to work together to help them stand,” said Juan Carlos Serrano, a member of the helicopter crew. The migrants were all candidates for exile from sub-Saharan Africa.
The arrivals of migrant ships in the Canaries have increased since the end of 2019 and the strengthening of controls in the Mediterranean. Last year, 23,023 migrants reached the Spanish archipelago, eight times more than the previous year, according to the Interior Ministry. “The state of the sea at this time of year and the distance to be covered […] make this route particularly dangerous, ”the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a joint statement. “Boats can drift for days without food and water,” they added.
The crossing is at least one hundred kilometers long, but it is particularly dangerous because of strong currents. The boats are mostly overloaded and in poor condition. Last year, at least 1,851 people lost their lives in attempts to reach the Canaries, according to the NGO Caminando Fronteras, which monitors these migrations.