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Five more migrant bodies found from Morocco capsizing

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RABAT (Reuters) – The bodies of five migrants were found on Morocco’s Atlantic coast near Casablanca on Monday, bringing to 12 the number killed when their boat capsized on Saturday, the state news agency reported.

On Saturday, authorities said seven Moroccan citizens had died and three were taken to hospital unconscious, reflecting a growing trend in illegal migration to Spain along the Atlantic coast after a crackdown on routes across the Mediterranean.

Morocco is located only 14 km (8.5 miles) south of Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar, and it shares land borders with the small Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta.

Moroccan authorities say they stopped 57,000 migrants illegally crossing to Spain during the first eight months of this year.

Figures released by the International Organisation for Migration show arrivals to Spain by sea more than halved from Jan. 1 to Sept. 18 from the previous year to 16,894.

Spain last month approved 32.2 million euros in aid to Morocco to combat illegal migration. The European Union has also promised 140 million euros in border management aid.

(Reporting By Ahmed El Jechtimi; Editing by Angus McDowall and Alex Richardson)

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