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Spanish coastguards pick up almost 700 African immigrants across Strait of Gibraltar

Published on Aug 12, 2014 7:53 PM
Would-be immigrants react as they arrive at Tarifa's harbour on Aug 11, 2014, after being rescued off the Spanish Coast. -- PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (REUTERS) – Spanish emergency services picked up 470 immigrants travelling in dozens of rafts across the Strait of Gibraltar on Tuesday and 227 from the same stretch of water the day before, a spokesman for the Maritime Safety Agency said.

More than 75,000 have tried to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa, landing in Italy, Greece, Spain and Malta, the UNHCR agency says, with about 800 people dying in the attempt.

About 10,500 children, two-thirds of them unaccompanied or separated from their families, were included in those numbers, as people flee violence in Africa and the Middle East, often using unseaworthy vessels and with the help of smugglers.

On Tuesday, some 49 boats carrying mostly men, but also 68 women and 15 under-18s, made the journey from North Africa to the south of Spain, Spanish authorities said. It was not clear whether the boats were in difficulty when they were stopped.

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