- At least 13 African migrants have been found dead aboard a heavily overloaded fishing boat heading for Spain's Canary Islands, Interior ministry said.
The ministry said a wooden fishing boat carrying 46 passengers and bodies of 13 others was spotted by a police patrol boat in early hours of Wednesday which escorted it to the port of Arguineguin on the island of Gran Canaria.
Four of the 46 migrants were taken to hospital while 10 others were treated by Red Cross at the port after they disembarked from the fishing boat.
It said migrants appeared to be from sub-Saharan countries, also mentioning that some of the survivors included two women.
"Later, the body of an African man was found not far from the area where ship was first spotted and 'everything indicates' that the deceased has been on the vessel," ministry said.
Some survivors said they had been at sea for 12 days. It is thought the boat set sail from Guinea in west Africa but lost its way. Survivors said the engine broke down during the voyage.
Spanish Red Cross said it appeared that the fishing boat had lost its way several times and suffered engine problems, saying 13 of victims could have died from hypothermia.
Police say African migrants pay on average £1,000 to trafficking gangs to reach the Moroccan coast. They are then packed into small boats, with poor navigation systems and old motors. The Red Cross estimates between 2,000 and 3,000 people die trying to reach Spain every year.
Every year thousands of Africans looking for a better life in Europe attempt treacherous journeys in overcrowded boats. Most are caught and hundreds more die along the way, either from exposure or by drowning.
However, many are now being turned back following increased surveillance of African coastal waters by local and European vessels.
During the first seven months of this year, 7,165 migrants reached Spain by boat, a nine percent drop on the same period last year, and a decline of nearly 60 percent on 2006, according to interior ministry figures.
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