Spain finds 69 migrants missing for a day in smuggling boat

Spain finds 69 migrants missing for a day in smuggling boat

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MADRID (AP) — Spain has located 69 African migrants who had gone missing while trying to reach Europe by boat, the country's Maritime Rescue service said Tuesday.

A spokeswoman with the government agency said that a merchant ship found the boat some 36 nautical miles south of the Spanish port city of Málaga. An official rescue vessel that had been looking for the group since it went missing on Monday was transferring the migrants to a nearby port, the official said.

A rescue charity had alerted authorities about the departure of a boat with 67 people from Moroccan shores. The spokeswoman said on Tuesday that the rubber dinghy turned out to be carrying two more people than initially reported, including 13 women and 5 children. She was not authorized to be named in media reports.

The latest rescue comes a day after 119 migrants were found on two smuggling boats in the Alborán Sea, east of the Strait of Gibraltar that separates Europe and Africa.

Refugees fleeing violence and migrants fleeing poverty look for a new life in Europe by setting off on dangerous trips by sea from African coasts.

Spain became the main entry point into Europe for migrants in 2018 but saw the number of arrivals halved last year to 26,168. Recently it has seen an uptick in the number of boats heading to the Canary Islands, which lie in the Atlantic Ocean off Africa's northeastern coast.

Morocco received 140 million euros ($155 million) in European Union funds in 2019 to crack down on illegal migrant crossings.

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