TARIFA, Spain / Andalusia, Aug 10, 2013 (AFP)
Nearly 90 illegal immigrants attempting to reach the southern coast of Spain in makeshift boats were picked up at sea Saturday by Spanish and Moroccan coastguards, rescue services said.
It came just a day after a further 39 immigrants were intercepted in the Strait of Gibraltar The Spanish authorities said the rescue operation was coordinated out of the port of Tarifa and, “in total, 70 people in 10 boats were rescued,” a spokeswoman for the rescue services told AFP.
The immigrants are of “sub-Saharan origin” and have been transferred to a Red Cross centre in Tarifa, she said. Among them was a young girl “suffering from severe hypothermia and who had been transferred to hospital by helicopter,” she added.
The spokeswoman said that a further “16 people in two boats” had been rescued by the Moroccans and transferred to the north African country.
On their official Twitter account, the Spanish rescue services said there was a wind force reading of eight, highlighting how dangerous any crossing would be.
Almost daily, African illegal immigrants try to cross into Spain from Morocco by sea, through the Strait of Gibraltar, or overland via the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, in the extreme north of Morocco.
In 2012, 3,804 immigrants reached the Spanish coast by sea, a reduction of 30 percent on 2011.
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