Spain rescues 472 migrants, some on inflatable rafts

January 17, 2019 GMT

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s maritime rescue service says it has saved 472 people who were trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe over the past two days.

The service says that 17 people, including one woman, were rescued early Thursday from two inflatable rafts like those used at beaches and swimming pools.

The spokeswoman, who wasn’t authorized to be identified in media reports, said that 455 migrants were rescued Wednesday — 124 in the Strait of Gibraltar, and 331 further east.

The service says two of the rescued, who were suffering severe hypothermia, had to be evacuated from rescue vessels by helicopters.

The United Nations estimates that 2,262 migrants died while crossing the Mediterranean in 2018, when 57,000 migrants reached Spanish shores despite unauthorized border crossings into Europe hitting a five-year low.