Spain searches for 67 missing at sea, rescues 119 others

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Spain on Tuesday resumed the search for 67 migrants missing from a boat trying to reach European shores a day after maritime authorities rescued 119 others from cold Mediterranean waters.

A spokeswoman with Spain’s Maritime Rescue agency said the search for the missing rubber boat in the stretch of sea separating Spain from Morocco restarted with a rescue vessel and a plane.

A rescue charity alerted authorities Monday about the boat’s departure from Moroccan shores, saying that 49 men, 13 women and 5 children were on board, the official said. She was not authorized to be named in media reports.

Also Monday, rescuers found two rubber boats in the Alborán Sea with 60 and 59 migrants from Africa. The migrants, including 26 women and five children, disembarked in Spain’s southeastern city of Málaga and were all in good health, the spokeswoman said.

Refugees fleeing violence and migrants fleeing poverty look for a new life in Europe by setting off on dangerous trips by sea from African coasts.

Spain became the main entry point into Europe for migrants in 2018 but saw the number of arrivals halved last year to 26,168. Recently it has seen an uptick in the number of boats heading to the Canary Islands, which lie in the Atlantic Ocean off Africa’s northeastern coast.

Morocco received 140 million euros ($155 million) in European Union funds in 2019 to crack down on illegal migrant crossings.