Spain Rescues Nearly 600 Migrants at Sea in Just One Day

Migrants rest after being rescued in the waters of the Strait of Gibraltar, in the port of Tarifa, on Wednesday.
Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images

Spanish authorities say they’ve rescued 593 migrants at sea in just one day.

The Spanish Maritime Safety & Rescue Agency, also called Salvamento Marítimo, said it recovered the people on 15 boats Wednesday in the Strait of Gibraltar and the Alboran Sea, the western part of the Mediterranean Sea.

Among the migrants were 39 minors, according to Spain’s state-owned public broadcaster RTVE.

As of last week, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration says 8,385 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea so far this year, and 121 people have died along the western Mediterranean route. That’s up from 2,476 arrivals in the first half of 2016.

Migration by sea to all of Europe, however, declined greatly from 2016 — mainly due to a drop in the number of arrivals to Greece. The IOM says the vast majority — 83 percent — of migrants entering Europe by sea this year landed in Italy.

But Spain could soon overtake Greece in having the second-highest number of migrants arriving in the country by sea, after Italy.

“Given the crackdown on migration from Libya, it seems natural that many would forsake the dangerous desert crossing to Libya and choose to cross from Morocco,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman told the Financial Times.

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SOURCE: NPR, James Doubek