LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Spanish emergency services said Tuesday they rescued 57 sub-Saharan migrants on an inflatable boat making its way to the Canary Islands, a day after 28 people were reported missing on the same perilous route from Africa when their boat overturned.
Spain’s maritime rescue service said one of its boats performed the rescue of 40 men, 14 women and three children in a two-hour period before dawn.
A rescue service official said that the previous night two of its helicopters saved 13 people from an inflatable boat in rough seas about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of the Canary Islands.
The survivors said there were 41 people on board the boat when it was hit by a large wave, but the missing couldn’t be found, according to the official.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with departmental rules.
The voyage across the Atlantic to the Canary Islands is one of the most dangerous migrant routes in the world, authorities and rights groups say, with trips in often overloaded boats taking more than a week to reach the Spanish archipelago and European soil.
Last year, 22,316 migrants arrived via the Canary Islands.
From January to mid-April this year, 6,359 migrants reached the archipelago, according to Spain’s Interior Ministry. That’s a 60% rise compared to the same period last year.
The International Organization for Migration, a United Nations body, says that so far this year 211 migrants have reportedly died or gone missing on the route, compared with 1,176 in the whole of last year. The true number of people who have died attempting the crossing isn’t known.
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