Spain rescues more than 200 migrants from Med

A Spanish Civil Guard and a Red Cross worker helping a migrant who was among a bigger group who were rescued at sea and brought to the port in Tarifa, Spain on June 23, 2017.
A Spanish Civil Guard and a Red Cross worker helping a migrant who was among a bigger group who were rescued at sea and brought to the port in Tarifa, Spain on June 23, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

MADRID (AFP) - Spanish coastguards rescued more than 200 migrants on Saturday (June 24) as they attempted to make the perilous sea crossing from north Africa to Europe.

A spokesman for Spain's state maritime rescue service told AFP that 224 people had been rescued from five vessels in the Strait of Gibraltar and the Alboran Sea, which separate Spain from Morocco.

The first rescues occurred in the early hours, the spokesman said, with dozens rescued south of Gibraltar from three boats.

Another 72 were rescued later after being spotted by a plane belonging to Europe's border agency, Frontex.

Spain's sea rescue service said Thursday (June 22) that it had saved more than 400 migrants this week alone.

The relatively short sea crossing from Morocco to Spain is a popular route taken by migrants from sub-Saharan and north Africa in their quest to reach Europe.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, 3,314 people attempted this crossing between January 1 and April 30 this year. They recorded 59 deaths over the same period in this part of the Mediterranean.