- At least three Africans have died in a packed boat carrying 77 migrants herding to the waters off Gran Canaria, one of Spain's Canary Islands, rescuers have said. A Spanish air force plane spotted a boat which is reported to have set off from Gambian.
Reports said the survivors, including 10 minors, were taken to the port of Arguineguin on the island, with a number of them in dire need of medical care.
"The migrants, who had been at sea for eight to 10 days, were in bad condition on arrival in Arguineguin, a port on the south coast of Gran Canaria," a Red Cross official said.
In recent years thousands of Africans are believed to have died by drowning or from exposure when trying to reach Spain.
Poverty and hunger force these people to gamble with their lives to cross deeps seas with unsafe vessels to seeks better paying jobs in Europe.
Officials said despite the severe risks of crossing from Africa to Europe by sea, including heightened vigilance by the authorities, immigrants take advantage of favourable weather conditions and the use of bigger and better vessels.
Spanish officials said Illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa have increasingly opted for the sea route to the Canary Islands since Madrid tightened security in 2005 around Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish enclaves in North Africa that were being used as a bridge into Europe.
Immigrants traditionally attempted to cross the Strait of Gibraltar to get to the Spanish mainland but a crackdown there has led traffickers to increasingly use longer and more dangerous routes, including to Spain's Canary Islands located to the west of Morocco.
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