MADRID—At least 11 people are feared dead after another boat crossing the Atlantic Ocean to get from North Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands became a trap for migrants trying to reach European territory, Spanish authorities and activists reported Aug. 31.
The Spanish government’s delegation in the Canary Islands said rescuers retrieved 32 survivors and one body overnight from a rubber boat in waters south of Fuerteventura, the closest of the archipelago’s islands to the African coast. One of the survivors died on the rescue boat.
Some of the survivors told authorities that some 60 people were on board when the boat set off four days earlier from a beach near the southern Moroccan town of Tan-Tan, the delegation said.
Walking Borders, a non-profit group that works with migrants in peril and provides assistance to their relatives, said that its research indicated the boat had carried only 42 people when it departed Morocco, leaving up to 11 victims.
The organization, which has become one of the first contact points for African families trying to locate their relatives on the other end of the migration route, claims that some 2,000 people have died so far this year on their way to the Canary Islands. The Atlantic route is one of the most dangerous sea crossings to Europe.
“The human rights crisis at the border needs an urgent political response,” Walking Borders founder Helena Maleno said in a tweet addressed to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Despite the initial discrepancies involving the August 31 rescue, the International Organization for Migration said it counted nine people as missing and two confirmed casualties from the vessel.
The UN agency has confirmed the deaths this year of 529 migrants who were attempting to reach the Spanish island chain, but the agency says the number does not reflect the actual death toll since people disappear at sea without ever being reported missing or having their bodies found.
Survivors of other failed crossings also have reported that bodies of fellow passengers were thrown into the sea before rescuers arrived.
Walking Borders said August 30 that at least 29 Africans, including seven children, had died on a boat that was the focus of an Aug. 27 rescue. A total of 25 adults and one minor survived. (AP)