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African migrants die as boat drifts
Cargo ship rescues 25 African migrants from boat off the Spanish coast.
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2008 19:06 GMT
The Spanish Canary Islands are a common destination for African migrants [EPA]

At least 35 African migrants have died of hunger, thirst and exposure after the boat carrying them across the Mediterranean sea drifted for three days, the Spanish Red Cross said

Twenty-five migrants were rescued from the boat on Monday south of Spain's Almeria province and taken to the port of Malaga, said Francisco Roman, head of the Red Cross office there.

Survivors told Red Cross employees at the port the boat originally carried 50 to 60 people on board, Roman said.

The bodies of people who died were thrown overboard, the Red Cross said.

"We can never know the exact number,'' Roman said.

The 25 survivors included five women and five children. One woman said her husband and three small children died at sea, Roman said.

"She was in shock, in a state of great anguish,'' he said.

Migrant routes

Mainland Spain and its Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa are a common destination for destitute Africans who risk their lives for a chance to reach Europe and find work.

Two similar events claimed nearly 30 lives in July, also in waters off southern Spain.

Traditionally, migrants travelled through Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar or crossed the Mediterranean further east to get to the Spanish mainland.

But a crackdown in recent years has prompted traffickers to move operations west to countries such as Mauritania, now the launching point for much-longer voyages to the Canary Islands.

The number of those who actually make it to the Canary Islands is down drastically because of better surveillance of African coastal waters, Spanish officials say.

Source:
Agencies
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