Several migrants feared dead off coast of Spain's Canary Islands

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By Euronews
A Spanish maritime rescue vessel pictured near the port of Los Cristianos in Spain's Canary Islands.
A Spanish maritime rescue vessel pictured near the port of Los Cristianos in Spain's Canary Islands.   -   Copyright  DESIREE MARTIN / AFP, FILE

Several migrants are missing and feared dead after a dinghy was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean by Spanish authorities.

Spain's coast guard said it rescued 13 people who were found on board the stricken vessel in rough seas near the Canary Islands on Monday.

But according to humanitarian groups, witnesses say more than the boat had carried more than 40 people and as many as 28 people are missing.

In a separate incident, at least 44 migrants are believed to have drowned off the coast of Western Sahara on Sunday while trying to reach Europe.

A spokesperson for the NGO Caminando Fronteras said the bodies of 16 migrants had been recovered, while 12 survivors of the shipwreck had been arrested.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Spanish emergency services said they had rescued 57 sub-Saharan migrants -- including three children -- on an inflatable boat.

Last year, 3,077 migrants died or went missing while trying to reach Europe by sea, according to the UN's refugee agency. This includes 1,153 people who died on the sea route from northwest Africa to the Canary Islands.

Meanwhile, officials warn that at least 478 people have already died or gone missing while trying to reach Europe in 2022.

The UN has called for governments to develop "alternatives" to the dangerous sea routes that asylum seekers desperately use to reach European land.

Additional sources • EFE, AP