At least four migrants were found dead on Sunday in a makeshift boat transporting 23 persons off Spain’s Canary Islands archipelago, local authorities announced.
Another 10 passengers were in life-threatening condition while six others were in a serious state, according to a provisional report from the Prefecture of the archipelago, located northwest of the North African coast.
Helicopter rescue operations were still ongoing at 1400 GMT south of the island of Hierro, where the boat was first spotted by a fishing vessel, Spanish coastguards told French news agency AFP.
At least 20 people have died this year while attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to the Canaries, a very dangerous migratory route. The number of migrants from Africa using this route increased sharply in 2020.
The influx has continued to rise in 2021. In the first quarter of the year, 3,436 migrants arrived in the Canaries, up from 1,582 in the corresponding period of 2019, according to official statistics.