MADRID (AP) — Spain’s maritime rescue service has saved 334 migrants and recovered four bodies from boats it intercepted trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
The rescue service says its patrol craft reached nine different boats carrying migrants that had left from African shores throughout Saturday and early Sunday.
One boat found Sunday was carrying four dead bodies along with 49 migrants. The rescue service said the cause of death has yet to be determined.
Driven by violent conflicts and extreme poverty, tens of thousands of migrants attempt to reach southern Europe each year by crossing the Mediterranean in smugglers’ boats. Most of the boats are unfit for open water, and thousands drown annually.
The U.N. says at least 785 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year. Through the first five months of 2018, a total of 27,482 migrants reached European shores, with 7,614 of them arriving in Spain.
Further to the east, Libya’s coast guard intercepted 152 migrants, including women and children, in the Mediterranean Sea, from two boats stopped Saturday off the coast of the western Zuwara district and the capital, Tripoli.
The migrants were taken to a naval base in Tripoli.
Libya was plunged into chaos following a 2011 uprising and is now split between rival governments in the east and west. The lawless in Libya has made it a popular place to head off to Europe for migrants fleeing poverty and conflict.