Over 250 migrants making the dangerous crossing to Europe were rescued Friday off Spain, with several other vessels still in need of rescue, authorities said.
Spain is the third busiest gateway for migrants arriving in Europe, but far behind Italy and Greece. However, the number of people arriving by sea in Spain has nearly tripled over last year to 17,687.
Many Africans undertaking the long route to Europe are choosing to avoid crossing danger-ridden Libya to get to Italy along the so-called central Mediterranean route, and choosing instead to get there via Morocco and Spain.
The number rescued off Friday off Spain stood at 266, who had been aboard 24 makeshift vessels, said a spokeswoman for the rescuers. Some 15 other boats in need of help were still being sought.
Authorities took the migrants to ports at Cartagena, Malaga and Torrevieja, which are all along Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) 158,935 people have made the dangerous crossing to Europe this year and another 2,982 died or went missing while trying.