Four people have drowned after a boat sank off the coast of Melilla, a spokesman for the Spanish Interior Ministry said. News agency Europa Press reported on Wednesday that a helicopter was searching the sea for another 16 migrants after the accident, which saw a boat capsize in the Alboran Sea, 60 kilometres north of the Spanish exclave in North Africa.
The Spanish maritime rescue service brought 65 people to safety shortly before midnight on Tuesday, including six women and three small children. Most of the migrants who were rescued are now in hospitals in Melilla and the condition of three of the adults is “serious,” the authorities said.
The number of migrants crossing the western Mediterranean to Europe has fallen significantly compared to 2018. According to the International Organisation for Migration, 23,000 migrants reached Spain this year up until Nov. 24, half as many as the same period in 2018. This can mainly be attributed to improved cooperation with Morocco, the organisation said.