TARIFA, Spain, Aug 01, 2013 (AFP)
An African migrant died while seven others were rescued as they tried to make land on Spain’s southern shore in an inflatable boat, the Spanish coastguard said Thursday.
A coastguard ship intercepted the boat about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of the Spanish port of Tarifa in the early hours of Thursday and rescued its eight passengers, but while they were being transported to land one of the migrants died of unknown causes, a coastguard spokesman said.
The surviving seven migrants were given blankets and transported by boat to Tarifa in the province of Cadiz which is located across the Strait of Gibraltar facing Morocco, he added.
Thousands of illegal migrants from Africa regularly attempt to cross from Morocco into Spain on makeshift boats each year. Some travel thousands of kilometers overland, being handed from smuggler to smuggler, ending up at one of many ports in northern Africa for a cramped and treacherous sea crossing to European soil.
The number of migrants who arrived on Spanish shores by boat last year totaled 3,804, a 30 percent drop from 2011, according to interior ministry figures.