Fourteen migrants drown off Canary Islands

 

Fourteen African migrants drowned today when their boat sank as they tried to reach Spain's Canary Islands, a police spokesman said.

Two people were missing, including a nine-month-old baby.

A second boat reached shore, a spokesman for the Civil Guard police said, and including survivors from the wreck, 46 migrants arrived safely in Fuerteventura, the most easterly of the islands.

 The Canary Islands are less than 200 km (125 miles) off the coast of northwest African and each year thousands of would-be immigrants try to cross the Atlantic stretch in boats that are not seaworthy.

Moroccan immigrant group ATIME estimates that some 4,000 people have died since 1997 crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the Canary Islands and the Strait of Gibraltar to southern Spain.

In November last year, at least 35 people died when a ship packed with African migrants sank off Spain's southern coast.

Some 500,000 illegal immigrants a year enter the European Union, according to European Commission estimates. Illegal immigrants detained in Spain are often deported to their country of origin.