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Two migrants, including child, found dead in boat off Canaries

Two people, including a four-year-old girl, have been found dead on a migrant boat off Spain’s Canary Islands, Spanish rescue services said Friday.

A total of 27 people had left the west African coast in a barely seaworthy vessel, seeking to reach the Canaries archipelago.

The Spanish coastguard told AFP the two bodies were discovered after a fishing boat came to the vessel’s assistance Thursday, adding that a third person was airlifted to hospital with chest pains.

The boat was found off the coast of the island of Lanzarote.

NGOs say women and children are increasingly among those embarking on the dangerous route to the islands of EU member Spain.

The death in March last year of a two-year-old girl from Mali after several days fighting for her life in a Canaries hospital sparked an emotional debate in Spain.

She had made the perilous journey with 51 other migrants, including her mother and sister.

Between January 1 and July 15 this year, 9,308 migrants arrived in the islands, the Spanish interior ministry has said.

That comprised a 27 percent rise on the same period last year, it said, despite a slowdown after Madrid and Rabat normalised diplomatic relations following a months-long crisis centred on the disputed Western Sahara territory.

Last year, more than 40,000 migrants arrived in Spain, mainly via Morocco.

Spanish non-governmental organisation Caminando Fronteras said that 4,404 migrants died or went missing during the journey — twice as many as in 2020.