Two children have drowned in the Mediterranean as hundreds of migrants were attempting to reach Spain from Morocco, Spanish Coastguard reported on Saturday.
The coastguard authority added that another 16 Moroccan migrants were reported missing after another boat sank off the coast of Morocco’s northern city of Nador.
“53 people had been rescued in the waters between Spain and Algeria as their migration boat took on water,” the Spanish sea rescue authority said on Twitter, adding that two lifeless bodies” were also recovered.
The authority pointed out that it had “initially 439 of the migrants who were aboard eight boats crossing Gibraltar strait.”
The Caminando Fronteras, non-governmental organisation that helps migrants, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the dead bodies were two seven-year-old children, noting that the immigrants came from “two villages located in the outskirts of Nador.”
Morocco became the main launchpad for Europe-bound migrants in July after Italy took a tougher line; in addition to the European Union (EU)’s aid to the Libyan coastguard stemmed flows from Libya.
United Nations’ data has shown that more than 38,852 people have crossed into Spain up to mid-September. Moroccan officials said they foiled more than 54,000 crossing attempts to Europe. Some 13 percent of those would-be migrants are Moroccans while the rest come from other African countries.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 42,500 migrants have arrived by sea in Spain since the start of the year and another 433 have been killed during the journey, often made aboard overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels.