Thirteen found dead found in immigrant boat

1st April 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 April 2005, MADRID- At least 13 people died after a makeshift boat became lost at sea and the 23 people on board drifted without food or water for a week off Spain's Canary Islands.

1 April 2005

MADRID- At least 13 people died after a makeshift boat became lost at sea and the 23 people on board drifted without food or water for a week off Spain's Canary Islands.

The bodies of 12 passengers were located at sea, rescuers said after the boat was intercepted by a fishing vessel some 150 miles (240 kilometres) off the island of Hierro, the most south-westerly of the island chain in the North Atlantic.

The Canary Islands and the Strait of Gibraltar are the favoured routes for illegal immigrants seeking to reach Spain by sea.

Another passenger died shortly after being picked up by the "Nuevo Carmen Nueves" fishing vessel while rescuers said five more passengers were in a critical condition and had been airlifted off the stricken vessel and taken to Tenerife.

Sea rescue sources said they first received a warning from another Spanish fishing vessel in the area at around 4 pm local time.

Spain's development ministry, which is coordinating the rescue effort with coast guard and air-sea rescue services, said it appeared that the deaths had resulted from hunger, thirst and exposure, amid signs that the group had had no provisions on board.

The Spanish coastguard said the group, all believed to be sub-Saharan Africans, had spent a week at sea and the survivors were in a "poor state".

Last year, 15,675 illegal immigrants aboard 740 ships were intercepted off the coast of Spain and the Canary Islands, while 81 corpses were found by the Spanish authorities and rescue services.

Thursday's incident is one of the worst to occur off the Spanish coast.

In January, a boat with the bodies of 10 Africans who died while trying to get to Spain was discovered after spending days lost at sea between Morocco and the Canary Islands.

In recent months, Spain and Morocco have ramped up cooperation to try to stem the flow of people who attempt the dangerous crossings, but the would-be immigrants continue to make the journey despite the serious risks they face as
they chase a new life in Europe.

Those who do reach shore are taken to a transit camp and deported.

Spain is traditionally a country of emigration rather than immigration, but in recent years hundreds of thousands of North Africans and Latin Americans have entered the country.

Last month Madrid launched a major drive to grant legal status to an estimated half a million clandestine immigrants working in the country, but critics said the most vulnerable will not benefit from the scheme.

The Socialist government in Madrid has said the programme, applying to immigrants who have work contracts and have been in the country for at least six months, is intended to end illegal employment and shrink the black economy.

About 2.6 million foreigners live in Spain, overall population 43.2 million, including more than a million clandestine immigrants.

Of that latter group,  one third are Ecuadoran, followed by Colombians, Romanians, Moroccans,
Argentinians, Bulgarians and Ukrainians.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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