Forty-five immigrants die as two boats sink off Canarys
7 March 2006
MADRID — Forty-five immigrants bound for Spain drowned off north-western Africa when their two small boats sank – one of them after inadvertently crashing into by a Moroccan coast guard vessel.
Red Crescent authorities in Mauritania said 23 sub-Saharan immigrants died when the first boat sank, while 20 others were able to be rescued by a Moroccan patrol boat.
Twenty-two immigrants – also from several sub-Saharan nations – drowned when the second boat capsized and 24 were rescued by Mauritanian patrol boats, sources said.
Both groups were headed for Spain’s Canary Islands.
The Red Crescent representative in the Mauritanian port city of Nuadibu, Ahmedou Uld Haye, told EFE that the first boat sank when a Moroccan patrol boat was trying to rescue them from their drifting boat in Western Sahara territorial waters.
Because of the heavy waves caused by a storm in the area, the Moroccan vessel collided with the immigrants’ boat as it was trying to approach it to take the 43 people on board.
Sources said that 38 Malians, 3 Gambians, one Nigerian and one man from the Ivory Coast were among the group.
The Moroccan boat split the immigrants’ craft in two and most of them tumbled into the water, sources said, after which the Moroccans were able to rescue 19 Malians and the Ivorian and recover the bodies of six of the people who drowned.
The survivors were taken to Nuadibu, where they were turned over to Mauritanian authorities.
The other shipwreck also occurred in Western Saharan waters as a result of the heavy seas.
Mauritanian patrol boats came to the aid of the sinking boat on which 46 illegal would-be immigrants were travelling, 25 of them from Guinea-Bissau, 19 from Gambia, and one each from Mauritania and Mali.
The Mauritanian vessels took the 24 people they rescued to Nuadibu, which is located on the Western Saharan-Mauritanian border.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news