New tragedy at sea off the Canary Islands: 5 migrants die, 68 others rescued

LAS PALMAS, Spain – Five migrants died while 68 others were rescued in a maritime rescue operation off the coast of Spain’s Canary Islands, Spanish authorities announced on Thursday.

Risky journey ends in tragedy

The migrants’ boat, a small fishing vessel, was spotted by a ship on Wednesday afternoon, drifting about 800 kilometers south of the island of Tenerife, one of the islands in the Spanish archipelago located off the northwest coast of the African continent. The Canary Islands have seen a significant increase in the number of migrants arriving in recent weeks.

Joint rescue operation

Spanish rescue teams launched a distress call to the cruise ship “Insignia” which was sailing in the area to assist in the rescue of the migrants. The crew of the ship, owned by Miami-based Oceania Cruises and which can accommodate up to 670 passengers, managed to rescue 68 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, including 3 minors and 3 women. They were also able to recover 3 bodies from the boat, while bad weather conditions prevented them from recovering two other bodies.

Boat left at sea

Due to bad weather conditions, the migrants’ boat was left at sea with a tracking device attached to it so that rescue teams could return to it later. The “Insignia” is expected to arrive in Tenerife tomorrow morning, Friday.

Humanitarian aid for surviving migrants

A spokesman for Oceania Cruises confirmed that the 68 surviving migrants had received medical attention, food, water, clothing and a safe place to rest on board the ship.

Significant increase in the number of migrants arriving in the Canary Islands

This tragedy highlights the significant increase in the number of migrants arriving in the Canary Islands in recent weeks. Spanish Interior Ministry statistics for 2024 show that 18,977 migrants arrived in the Canary Islands between 1 January and 15 June on board 290 boats, compared to 5,914 migrants on 126 boats during the same period last year.

Spain: A major gateway for illegal immigration to Europe

Spain, along with Greece and Italy, is one of the three main entry points for illegal immigrants into Europe. While Italy has seen a significant decrease in the number of migrants arriving by sea this year, data shows that migration flows are shifting towards Spain and Greece.

Canary Islands: A perilous route

The Canary Islands route is less monitored than the Mediterranean route, but it remains dangerous due to strong sea currents and the precarious state of the makeshift boats used by migrants. Statistics from the Spanish NGO “Caminando Fronteras” which works on migrants’ rights, indicate that more than 5,000 migrants have died during their attempts to cross the sea to reach the Spanish coasts in the first five months of this year, most of them via the Canary Islands route.

About محمد الفاسي