Spain recovers 24 bodies from migrant boat off Canaries

The bodies of 24 sub-Saharan migrants who are believed to have died of thirst and hunger as they tried to cross from the west coast of Africa to the Canary Islands have been brought to land by Spanish rescuers

BARCELONA, Spain -- The bodies of 24 sub-Saharan migrants, among them two minors, who are believed to have died of thirst and hunger as they tried to cross from the west coast of Africa to the Canary Islands, were brought to land by Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service Wednesday evening.

Their wooden boat was first spotted by a Spanish Air Force plane drifting in the Atlantic Ocean some 490 kilometers (304 miles) from the island of El Hierro on Monday.

Only three people on board were still alive but barely moving according to rescuers. Two men and one woman were airlifted in serious condition by a military helicopter to the island of Tenerife and were hospitalized, the Spanish government delegation in the Canary Islands said.

According to Spanish Air Force rescuers speaking to local television, survivors reported they had spent 22 days at sea.

In 2020 at least 849 people died or went missing trying to reach the Canaries, while 23,000 reached their destination, according to IOM's Missing Migrants Project. The true death toll, however, is believed to be much higher, the agency admits.

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