Spain's emergency services on the Canary Islands said it had rescued 319 people among then 59 women and 24 children from seven different vessels. One of the boats purportedly was carrying as many as 120 people. A Maritime Rescue Service spokeswoman told the AP that Spanish rescue boats reached the boats at different locations overnight on January 25 and early on January 26. At its closest point to Africa, the Canary Islands are just 100 kilometers (60 miles) off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean.
What condition were the people rescued on boats in?
Rescuers did not find bodies near or on the boats found. The spokeswoman for the maritime rescue service only said that rescue services found nine individuals clinging to a capsized boat 45 nautical miles from the island of Lanzarote. The boat engaged in that rescue had to handle another rescue immediately. Footage taken by the news agency Reuters showed dozens of people in red blankets being helped off a rescue boat at the port of Arguineguin by masked emergency workers in protective gear. Nine adults and one baby had to be transferred for medical care on Lanzarote and the nearby island of Gran Canaria. Most of those rescued are believed to be from North and Central Africa.
The Walking Borders NGO that works with migrants however reported that 18 people on one of the boats had died. The group's founder Helena Maleno wrote on Twitter, "Rescue means were activated too late, despite having the boat's location." Last year, more than 22,000 migrants arrived by sea on the Canary Islands, half of the recorded total in Spain. According to the International Organization of Migration, at least 384 people died in 2021 attempting the perilous sea journey. By contrast, the NGO Walking Borders reports 4,404 deaths in 2021.
ar/msh (AP, Reuters)