At least seven sub-Saharan migrants died today and 40 others were arrested by the Moroccan authorities following the shipwreck of a small boat which was on its way to the Canary Islands, when it was in the waters off the south-western town of Tarfaya.
A source from the local authorities explained to the official Moroccan agency MAP that the bodies of the seven dead, including five women, were washed up on a beach belonging to the Atlantic province of Tarfaya.
The source added that the arrested migrants, including twelve women, have been placed in medical isolation, waiting for the health authorities to test them for coronavirus.
The initial warning of the shipwreck was issued by the Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras after receiving several phone calls from the occupants of the boat, its spokesperson, Helena Maleno, confirmed to Efe.
The activist said that a total of 60 migrants, including 15 women and a baby, were on board the boat at the time of the shipwreck, which means that 13 are still missing.
Maleno regretted the delay in the intervention of the Moroccan authorities, who, she said, had been informed since last night that the boat, which left the Moroccan coast on Monday, was sinking.
The Royal Moroccan Navy rescued between 29 July and 1 August a total of 183 illegal immigrants of sub-Saharan origin in the waters of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
Morocco claims that in the first four months of this year it aborted the illegal departure of 10,300 migrants; in Spain, statistics from the Ministry of the Interior have recorded between 1 January and 15 June the irregular entry of 6,466 migrants by sea, of whom 2,642 did so by the so-called "Canary Island route".