Spain: 49 migrants feared dead off southern coast

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    Nearly 50 migrants are feared dead after their rubber boat sank between the coasts of Spain and Morocco, according to the Spanish Coast Guard, Anadolu reported.

    The migrants are reported to have departed from Morocco on Sunday night but later capsized after being hit by waves, said a coast guard statement. On Tuesday, the coast guard rescued three men who were clinging to the “half-sunken” ship, but authorities have not been able to find the other 49 migrants who were aboard.

    If the missing are confirmed dead, this will be the most lethal sea crossing in the western Mediterranean this year.

    As of July 3, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that 60 migrants have died on the same route since the beginning of the year, making it nearly twice as lethal as the Greek route, but significantly less so than the central Mediterranean route through Italy. Combining those deaths with this recent tragedy, almost as many people have died in 2017 trying to reach Spain as in all of 2016.

    Human rights groups in Spain have condemned the situation, calling on the government to offer a more secure route into Spain.

    “Spain must facilitate access to asylum in the offices in Ceuta and Melilla to avoid more deaths,” said the non-profit Spanish Refugee Aid Commission (CEAR) in a statement.