By Borja Suarez
GRAN CANARIA, Spain (Reuters) – One migrant died and 26 were missing after their dinghy capsized in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Spain’s Canary Islands, the Spanish Coast Guard told Reuters on Tuesday.
The coast guard rescued 34 people after the vessel capsized around 135 miles off the southern tip of Gran Canaria on Monday. Another two vessels carrying around 63 people, including two children, were found floating in the sea around 40 miles to the south. All those onboard were rescued, the coast guard said.
Authorities were alerted on April 24 to a dinghy that had left Cabo Bojador in Western Sahara, a disputed territory claimed by Morocco, with 60 migrants aboard. Only 34 of them have been found, the Coast Guard said.
A Spanish Coast Guard plane spotted the stricken boat and was assisted by two merchant vessels and a helicopter until a Spanish rescue ship arrived.
The rescued migrants arrived at Gran Canaria’s Arguineguin port around 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning. All of them were Sub-Saharan, the Coast Guard said.
Located around 60 miles to the west of Morocco, Spain’s Canary Islands have become a hot spot for migrants trying to reach Europe in recent years.
Last year some 4,400 were lost at sea attempting to reach Spain, according to a monitoring group. A total of 22,316 migrants arrived by boat to the Canary Islands in 2021, compared to 23,271 in 2020.
(Reporting by Borja Suarez and Silvio Castellanos, writing by Christina Thykjaer; Editing by Nathan Allen and Raissa Kasolowsky)