Spain finds biggest migrant boat

Posted by admin on Sep 30th, 2008

BBC Video:

Spanish coastguards have rescued 230 Africans – in what is thought to be the largest single boatload of illegal immigrants to reach Spain. Coastguards brought the migrants ashore after the open-top fishing vessel was spotted by a rescue plane 80km (50 miles) off the Canary Islands. Spanish officials believe the migrants spent four days at sea, after setting out from Mauritania in West Africa.

Thousands of Africans try the perilous sea crossing to the Canaries each year.

The BBC’s Steve Kingstone says it is a common trafficking route, in which desperate people pay large sums of money to be crammed into very basic fishing boats.

It is impossible to know how many die during the sea crossing, he says. Thousands of migrants try the perilous sea crossing each year. He adds that images of exhausted, bedraggled migrants reaching land in the Canary Islands are a familiar sight here but never quite on this scale.

The group, which included around 25 children, were all male and a small number were being treated for dehydration and hypothermia.

The migrants were taken to the port of Los Cristianos in Tenerife.

Spanish authorities have up to 40 days to establish their nationalities.

Those identified will be repatriated, while others will be released on to the streets, but with no official status in Spain.

So far this year, almost 7,000 illegal immigrants have arrived by boat in the Canary Islands, a slight fall on the same period last year.

To deter potential migrants, the government has invested in the economies of several West African nations; and produced short films warning of the dangers of taking to the sea.

Comments are closed.