TENERIFE (Spain), May 1 (NNN-AGENCIES) — A small boat carrying 24 dead migrants from sub-Saharan Africa has been found at sea, some 500 kilometres off the Canary Islands.
The boat seemed to have drifted off its course and was sighted by accident by an air force plane during a training flight on Monday, Canarias7 television channel reported, citing the regional government.
Officials were only able to ascertain the number of victims once the boat was towed to the port of Los Cristianos in Tenerife. Earlier, it had been reported that 17 people had died.
Three people – two men and a woman – were rescued by helicopter on Monday, April 26. All of the other people in the boat were already dead by then.
The boat had been adrift for 22 days, according to those who were rescued.
All of those in the boat were from countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The case is the worst refugee disaster near the Canary Islands in a long time. A boat carrying 15 dead migrants was found off the islands last August.
Despite the perils, the number of people who risked the journey to the Canary Islands rose significantly last year, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, which recorded more than 22,000.
So far this year, 4,300 people have sought to reach the archipelago, according to UN data.
Reliable data regarding the number of deaths that occur at sea is difficult to come by.
The Canary Islands are only about 100 kilometres west of the coast of West Africa, but many of those who try to make the journey have small, flimsy boats powered only by outboard motors. Those who lose their way or miss the islands have little chance of survival. — NNN-AGENCIES
Source: NAM News Network