Baby born on boat among 87 saved off Canary Islands

A baby born on a rickety boat bound for the Canary Islands was one of 87 migrants picked up by rescuers overnight, Spanish rescuers said on Friday.

The migrants, all of them from sub-Saharan Africa, were travelling on three boats which were picked up just south of the island of Gran Canaria, a spokeswoman for the Salvamento Maritimo rescue service said.

“A new-born baby was rescued and it seems that the mother gave birth in the boat just beforehand,” she said, without specifying the sex of the infant but saying both mother and baby were “doing well”.

There were 54 people in the first two boats which were picked up on Thursday evening about 60 nautical miles south of Gran Canaria, and rescuers came across another vessel carrying 33 people as they were just off the island, she said.

Among those rescued were 30 women, six babies and four other children, while the rest were men, with all taken to the southern port of Arguinerin, she said.

In early January, another baby born aboard a makeshift boat carrying 43 migrants did not survive the journey and was declared dead.

In January, the number of migrants reaching the Canaries soared to 708 – 18 times the level of a year ago when it stood at 40, government figures showed, raising fears of a resurgence of migrant traffic to the Atlantic islands, a route taken by tens of thousands of people a decade ago.

As Morocco has waged a crackdown on illegal immigration, there has been an increasing number of people trying to reach the Spanish islands by boat from Mauritania, whose coastline lies 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) to the south.

As well as the Canaries route, other migrants have sought to sail to mainland Spain from Algeria’s northern coast.

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