A migrant has died and at least 24 others are missing after a boat sank off Spain’s Canary Islands.
Spanish rescuers said they received warnings from the Civil Guard that 61 migrants had left Western Sahara on a small boat.
Thirty-six people have been rescued south of the island of Gran Canaria in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the coastguard said on Twitter.
The Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras had initially indicated that 27 people had “died” in the sinking, including “six children”.
A Spanish Coast Guard aircraft spotted the stricken boat and was assisted by two merchant vessels and a helicopter.
Authorities also rescued 80 other migrants after intercepting two other boats trying to make the dangerous sea crossing.
Spain remains one of the main entry points for illegal migrants trying to reach European soil.
A total of 6,359 migrants arrived in the Canary Islands between January 1 and April 15 this year, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry. This number is nearly 60% higher than the same period last year.
In 2021, more than 40,000 migrants – mainly from Morocco – arrived by sea on Spanish lands.
Meanwhile, at least 1,255 people died when migrants attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean last year – the highest since the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) began compiling cases in 2014.
But Spanish NGOs estimate the death toll in 2021 to be 4,404, twice as many as in 2020.