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IMMIGRATION

299 migrants rescued from 31 boats in Strait of Gibraltar

Good weather has led to a rise in the number of people trying to enter Spain illegally by sea

Nineteen sub-Saharan immigrants arrive in Motril, Granada, at the weekend. Ampliar foto
Nineteen sub-Saharan immigrants arrive in Motril, Granada, at the weekend. EFE

The Spanish coastguard rescued 299 people from 31 small boats in the Strait of Gibraltar on Monday. All the men, women and children onboard were found to be in apparent good health and taken to Tarifa, in Cádiz province, to be treated.

The good weather in the Strait of Gibraltar over recent days has led to a rise in the number of immigrants trying to enter Spain illegally by sea in small inflatable dinghies.

Such a huge influx coming across the Mediterranean has not been seen since October 2010, when 300 migrants made it on to the shores of Andalusia, Murcia, Ceuta and the Balearics in just one weekend.

According to Spanish Maritime Rescue, two of its ships intercepted eight small boats trying to cross the Strait with 84 people aboard in the early hours of Monday morning. Later two other ships and a Civil Guard patrol boat rescued 15 other small vessels. In the afternoon further boats carrying migrants were intercepted. Two other boats were taken back to Morocco.

On Sunday two other boats carrying 27 sub-Saharans were intercepted trying to reach the Cádiz coast

On Sunday two other boats carrying 27 sub-Saharans were intercepted when they were trying to reach the coasts of Algeciras and Tarifa in Cádiz province. The first was an inflatable dinghy with 10 people aboard, including a pregnant woman. Doctors found her to be in a good health and decided to move her to Algeciras police premises along with the rest of the boat’s passengers.

The 15 men and two women aboard the second inflatable dinghy were also found to be in reasonable health when Spanish Maritime Rescue discovered them seven nautical miles off the coast of Tarifa at 11.30am on Sunday. Some of them showed light symptoms of hypothermia, but these were relieved after they received hot food, a Red Cross spokesman said.

Three rafts carrying 16 people, including four minors, have also reached beaches at Torrevieja and Pilar de Horadada in Alicante in recent days. The migrants said they were of Moroccan, Algerian and Palestinian origin.

On Saturday Maritime Rescue picked up 22 men of North African origin discovered in a small boat 13 nautical miles east of Mojácar, Almería. One of them was a 17-year-old who had to be taken by helicopter to receive treatment for diabetes in Almería.

Hours later, Maritime Rescue had to rescue 19 more people after the small boat in which they were travelling sank 70 nautical miles off the coast of Granada. The migrants, who included three children and six women, three of whom were pregnant, were taken to Motril.