LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA – Following a shipwreck 80 miles from Gran Canaria and 40 miles from the coast of Western Sahara, two bodies have been recovered, including that of a girl between five and eight years old.
The Maritime Rescue Service helicopter team, Helimer 201, is currently transporting the body to Gran Canaria airport, as confirmed by sources from the state rescue company to SER. The organisation Caminando Fronteras had already alerted emergency services about this distressed vessel yesterday afternoon.
In response, the Maritime Rescue Service reached out to Moroccan authorities, who reportedly coordinated the search efforts in the “joint rescue area.”
A freighter, rescue plane, and helicopter were dispatched to assist in locating and rescuing possible survivors. Ultimately, a Moroccan patrol boat named “Al Manal” managed to rescue 24 individuals alive, including two women, with some being recovered from the water, according to the Maritime Rescue Service sources.
During the search for one boat, a Spanish plane discovered another similar vessel nearby. The rescue of this second boat was coordinated from Gran Canaria on Wednesday evening.
The Spanish vessel returned to Arguineguín with the 63 occupants of that boat, leaving the rescue of the other boat to Moroccan authorities as a merchant ship had already assisted.
According to Caminando Fronteras, the boat was believed to have set sail with around 60 people on board. Apart from the 24 individuals rescued, it is alleged that another body remains on board the Moroccan patrol boat. Furthermore, the organisation reports that 37 people are still missing, potentially resulting in “39 fatalities, including 4 women and a baby,” according to data provided to SER.
“Negligence in Providing Aid”
“Spain has done the same as Greece today, negligence in providing aid. This must stop,” stated Caminando Fronteras, an organisation advocating for the rights of migrants attempting to reach Spain. The organisation raised the alarm yesterday afternoon when those aboard the rubber boat contacted them directly, reporting that they were adrift.
Helena Maleno, their spokesperson, highlighted the delayed search and lack of coordination between Spain and Morocco “in a rescue area under the responsibility of Spain” as factors contributing to this latest tragedy. She noted, “A ship, a cargo ship, was diverted, and it remained next to the boat. But the hours passed, and a few hours later, Spain confirmed that Morocco, due to communication problems, would be responsible for coordination in Spanish rescue waters.”