THE skipper of a passenger boat, off the Spanish coast, was forced to turn around after sailing past several migrant bodies, floating in the water.
Authorities in Spain and Morocco launched a search-and-rescue operation throughout last weekend, having recovered at least 20 Africans near the coast of Melilla, Spain’s North African territory.
Most of the bodies were found by the Moroccan authorities, but one, discovered in another location by a Spanish police boat, was taken to Melilla.
The search was widened on Monday, with the support of a Spanish police helicopter. That’s because authorities feared the recent strong winds and currents could have pushed the bodies further away, said Irene Flores, a Government spokeswoman in Melilla.
Authorities do not know when or where the tragedy occurred, and nor are they aware of the exact route the migrants were following.
The number of migrants arriving in Spain through the Mediterranean almost tripled to nearly 22,000 last year.
And reported drownings off the Spanish coast nearly doubled, according to a January report by the UN’s International Organisation for Migration.
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