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52 feared dead, 1 survivor, on migrant boat going to Spain

August 20, 2021 GMT

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A woman who was the only person pulled from a sinking dinghy in the Atlantic Ocean told her rescuers that the boat had left Africa a week earlier carrying 53 migrants, Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service said Friday.

A merchant ship spotted the inflatable dinghy on Thursday, 255 kilometers (158 miles) south of Spain’s Canary Islands, and alerted Spanish emergency services, an official said.

The woman was clinging to the sinking craft with a dead man and a dead woman next to her, the rescue service official said.

She told rescuers that the boat had embarked from the Western Sahara coast and that the passengers were from Ivory Coast.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with departmental rules, had no information about the woman’s health or her age.

Migrants risk their lives trying to reach European soil by land and sea, and deaths are not uncommon in the area of the Atlantic that separates the west coast of Africa and Spain’s Canary Islands.

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Shipwrecks on the route are hard to verify, and most victims’ bodies are never recovered. The U.N.’s International Organization for Migration reported that at least 250 migrants died on the route to the Canary Islands in the first six months of 2021. Migrant rights group Walking Borders counted almost 2,000 deaths in the same period.

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Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration