Three Boats With 126 Migrants Reach Spain’s Canary Islands

Three boats with 126 migrants reach Spain's Canary Islands

January 1, 2008

MADRID (AFP)– The wave of illegal African immigration to Spain's Canary Islands continued into 2008 as three boats carrying 126 migrants arrived Tuesday on the archipelago off the coast of Morocco, officials said.

A cayuco, or wooden fishing boat, carrying 40 people, including two minors, arrived on Tenerife, the largest of the seven islands that make up the archipelago, at around 3:30 am (0230 GMT), a marine rescue official said.

It was towed by a maritime rescue services ship to the port of Los Cristianos after being spotted in the waters off the island, he said.

A second ship with 28 people on board arrived on Lanzarote some five hours later, an official said. It was towed by a police patrol boat to Arrecife, the island's capital.

A third ship with 58 migrants, including two women, was towed to Los Cristianos late on Tuesday after it was spotted south of the island of Gran Canaria.

During the first 11 months of 2007, a total of 17,038 illegal immigrants arrived in Spain on 704 boats, the Europa Press news agency reported Tuesday citing official government figures. Most arrived on the Canary Islands.

By comparison during the same period of 2006 a total of 37,647 clandestine migrants arrived in Spain on 1,111 boats, the agency said.

The government credits the fall in the number of arrivals to stepped up patrols of the coast.

Authorities fear many of the thousands of Africans who make the perilous journey towards Spanish soil each year die of thirst or exposure on the risky voyages but there is no way of knowing exactly how many have died.