Thursday, 28 October, 2021
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Pregnant mum, kids among 277 rescued off Spain coast

MADRID: A pregnant Algerian mother and her five children were among 277 migrants rescued off the coast of mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands in the past 24 hours, officials said on Tuesday, reports AFP.

Nearly two-thirds of them were pulled to safety from boats in waters near the Balearics, while another 91 were rescued off the coast of Alicante in southeastern Spain.

The sea route to mainland Spain and its Balearic and Canary Islands is fraught with danger, with the International Organization for Migration saying at least 1,025 people have died in 2021 in "the deadliest year on the migratory route to Spain".

The woman, who "was eight months pregnant," was one of those who reached the Alicante coastline, a Red Cross spokeswoman told AFP, saying she had been taken to hospital suffering from stomach pains. Most of them were from Algeria although one boat was carrying refugees from Syria, she said.

"The first boat was found near Santa Pola with four women and six minors on board, including a baby of seven months, while the others were between four and six," she said.

Of the 23 on board, "most of them were Syrians."

Spain's Salvamento Maritimo coastguard said six vessels were rescued, all of which had apparently set sail from the Algerian coast, which at its closest lies around 270 kilometres (170 miles) from Alicante.

Meanwhile, the coastguard also rescued 13 vessels off the Balearic Isles in less than 24 hours, pulling 176 people -- including 11 women -- to safety, the Spanish government's delegation in the islands told AFP.

Last week, the bodies of eight migrants, including three women and a child, washed up on the shores of southern Spain near the city of Almeria, the local authorities said. The boats had likely set off from Morocco or Algeria.

Spanish interior ministry figures to September 14 show that a total of 10,701 migrants have managed to reach mainland Spain or the Balearic Islands by sea.

They also show 11,060 people reached the Canary Islands from the coast of west Africa, more than double the 5,090 in 2020.

Figures from Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish NGO that monitors SOS calls from migrants at sea, suggest that more than 2,000 people have died or gone missing on the Atlantic route this year.