Spanish coast guard abandons search for 35 missing migrants

30th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Spain's coast guard said Friday it has called off the search for 35 migrants missing at sea after their boat shipwrecked between Spain and Morocco,

"The search has ended and it will not be resumed," a coast guard spokeswoman said a day after rescuers plucked 15 migrants alive from the remains of the boat and found the bodies of four others.

The coastguard began looking for the stricken boat after receiving a call on Wednesday from an NGO which warned that a vessel loaded with migrants had departed from a beach near Al Hoceima.

A coastguard vessel spotted the troubled boat just after midday on Thursday, some 39 nautical miles (72 kilometres) northwest of the town of Al Hoceima in northern Morocco.

Two women and 13 men were clinging to what was left of the boat, which had lost its hull.

The 15 rescued migrants, who were transported by the coastguard ship to the southern Spanish port of Malaga, said there had been 39 other people on board who fell overboard.

It is the most serious migrant boat accident off the coast of Spain this year and it came as at least 17 children and nine adults drowned when three boats sank en route from Turkey to Greece.

Last year Spanish authorities picked up 3,500 migrants trying to cross from Morocco by boat, a 55 percent increase over 2013.

This year alone, more than 3,000 people have died while trying to make the perilous journey to Europe across the Mediterranean. More than half a million people have made the voyage in Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II.

© 2015 AFP

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