Spain Searching for 143 Missing Boat Migrants Near Canary Islands as Crossing of Dangerous Route Doubles

VALENCIA, SPAIN - JUNE 17: Italian navy vessel Orione carrying migrants arrives at the Port of Valencia on June 17, 2018 in Valencia, Spain. The Aquarius rescue ship is arriving today at the port of Valencia amid two Italian navy vessels. They are carrying 630 migrants who were rescued from …
Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Spain on Tuesday was searching for some 143 people missing on five migrant boats en route to the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, according to Spain’s maritime rescue service.

A Civil Guard plane was searching for the boats near the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, off the northwest coast of Africa, the service said.

Authorities were alerted about the missing boats on Monday afternoon.

Helena Maleno, of the human rights group Walking Borders, told The Associated Press the migrants, including women and children, are believed to have departed from the northwest coast of Africa between Friday and Saturday.

Although the total number of sea crossings to Spain decreased by more than 50% in 2019, arrivals via the dangerous Atlantic route to the Canary Islands doubled. According to the International Organization for Migration at least 210 people died on that route last year.

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