Spain rescues 339 migrants at sea in one day

AFP
Spanish coastguards rescued more than 330 people from seven boats Wednesday in the waters between Morocco and Spain, a route increasingly used by migrants trying to get to Europe.
AFP

Spanish coastguards rescued more than 330 people from seven boats Wednesday in the waters between Morocco and Spain, a route increasingly used by migrants trying to get to Europe.

"A total of 339 people were rescued, in seven small boats, from 1:00 am (2300 GMT) to now," a spokeswoman for the coastguards told AFP.

There were at least 19 minors and one baby among the migrants, she added. They were taken to the coastal city of Tarifa in southern Spain.

"The high number of boats coming to the Spanish coast this summer is unusual," she said, adding there were three times as many as the same period in 2016.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 8,385 migrants had arrived in Spain this year by August 9.

At least 121 drowned while attempting this route, compared to 128 deaths for the whole of 2016, as recorded by the IOM.

Spain could overtake Greece this year in the number of migrants arriving by sea, the IOM said in a recent statement.

And this doesn't take into account those crossing by land into Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish territories in northern Morocco.

Both cities are the EU's only land borders with Africa.

As a result, they are entry points for migrants who regularly try to climb high double border fences or force their way through them with wire cutters, or hide in vehicles crossing the frontier.

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