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Three migrants die on boat heading for Spain

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Friday September 1, 2006

Canary Islands- Three would-be immigrants have died on board a boat attempting to cross from West Africa to the Canary Islands, Spanish police and rescuers said Friday. The victims were travelling with 83 other migrants, nine of whom were hospitalized.

Rescuers saved the survivors from a boat which was adrift and leaking at nearly 90 kilometres south of El Hierro Island.

The weakest of the immigrants were flown to Tenerife, while the others arrived by boat to El Hierro.

Nine immigrants were hospitalized for symptoms including hypothermia and dehydration. Several of them were reported in serious condition.

Some reports said one of the dead victims was younger than 18 years old.

The deaths followed the drowning of at least 84 mainly Senegalese and Gambian migrants off Mauritania over the week-end. Hundreds, possibly thousands of Africans are believed to have died while attempting to reach the Canaries this year.

Four immigrant boats including the one with the dead victims reached the Canaries overnight, with about 250 people on board. They followed nearly 450 who arrived the previous day.

The Canary Islands have received more than 19,000 Africans this year.

Spain has sought European Union help in patrolling the Canaries and African coasts, but Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said migratory pressure was not likely to ease in the near future.

Rubalcaba described illegal immigration as a "peaceful rebellion against the poverty in Africa."

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur