Spanish surfers in the Canary Islands pulled six survivors from the ocean, but an additional 19 dead bodies were found between Sunday evening and Monday morning. The islands are often a stopover for Africans trying to reach Europe.
AFP - At least 19 people drowned when a boat carrying mostly North African migrants capsized off Spain's Canary Islands with three still missing, Spanish rescuers said Monday.
Surfers pulled six survivors from the ocean after hearing their cries for help on Sunday when the boat overturned just offshore from Arrecife, the main city on Lanzarote island, police said.
"19 bodies have been recovered since yesterday, three people are missing and six have been saved," a spokesman for the Salvamento Maritimo rescue team told AFP.
Fourteen bodies were found on Monday morning, added to five which had already been discovered on Sunday evening.
The Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco, has been a magnet for Africans hoping to reach Europe.
Authorities fear many of the thousands who try to reach Spain by sailing in simple boats from west Africa die of thirst, hunger or exposure.
But stepped up surveillance and cooperation with African nations meant the number of migrants reaching the archipelago dropped to 9,181 last year from to 12,478 in 2007 and 31,678 in 2006, the government said in January.
Date created : 2009-02-16