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Bodies of 24 migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa rescued by Spain

A wooden boat carrying the dead bodies of migrants is towed by emergency services.   -  
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Andres Gutierrez/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

African migrants

The bodies of 24 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa brought to land by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service on Wednesday night.

They are believed to have died of thirst and hunger, trying to cross the west coast of Africa to the Canary Islands.

Two of them were minors. Their wooden boat was first spotted by a Spanish Air Force plane, drifting in the Atlantic Ocean some 265 nautical miles from the island of El Hierro on Monday morning.

Rescuers said three people on board were still alive, but barely moving. Two men and one woman in serious condition were airlifted by a military helicopter to the island of Tenerife.

Spanish Air Force rescuers told local media that survivors reported they had spent 22 days at sea.

The deadly Atlantic sea journey has become a major route for migrants and asylum-seekers.

They're fleeing conflict, violence and economic hardship exarcebated by the pandemic.

Spain's Interior Ministry has said some 4,000 people have reached the Canaries so far this year.

Last year, at least 849 people were reported to have died or gone missing trying to reach the Canaries. Some 23,000 reached their destination according to the U.N. migration agency's Missing Migrants Project. But the true death toll is believed to be much higher.