A boat carrying 280 migrants landed Tuesday in Spain’s Canary Islands, having crossed one of the most dangerous migratory routes in the Atlantic, a rescue organisation told AFP.
It marks the largest number of migrants to arrive on a single boat to the archipelago, the rescue group said.
The migrants consisted of 278 men including 10 boys plus two women, and are of “sub-Saharan” origin, according to rescuers who aided them on their arrival.
Spain, and in particular the Canary archipelago off the coast of Africa, is one of the main gateways into Europe for irregular migrants.
Spanish media reports said the vessel reached the port of La Restinga on the small island of El Hierro some 450 kilometres (285 miles) off the African coast.
On Tuesday alone, El Hierro saw some 500 migrants land on its shores. Emergency services reported another boat arriving with 79 migrants while 127 others were rescued from sea.
The Canaries saw 14,976 migrants arrive between January 1 and September 30, an increase of 19.8 percent compared with the same period in 2022, according to the latest figures from the Spain’s interior ministry.
In recent years, the migratory route to the Canary Islands has been particularly busy due to tighter controls in the Mediterranean.
Shipwrecks are frequent, as the crossing is particularly dangerous.
NGOs regularly report fatal shipwrecks in Moroccan, Spanish and international waters, with unofficial estimates putting the death toll in the dozens, if not hundreds.
Since the beginning of this year, 140 migrants have died or disappeared along this crossing, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) from early September.
The Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras, which unlike the IOM relies on emergency calls from those at sea or their relatives, estimates that 778 migrants died or disappeared on this migration route in the first half of the year.