The city’s administrative authorities made the announcement yesterday, saying that the bodies were found at sea last Saturday.
16 floating bodies were reportedly sighted by La Sorolla, a Spanish passenger ship.
“The crew of the ship had sailed for more than four miles, after setting sail from Melilla, when they spotted a score of bodies floating in the Mediterranean, off Cape Tres Forcas (Cape Three Forks)”, El Pais reported.
The retrieved bodies were then taken to the Nador Morgue, where the medical staff, after administering the first tests, revealed that 15 of the victims were from sub-Saharan countries, while one was from Morocco. They were also three females among the victims.
“Among the victims of the tragedy were people from Mali, Guinea Conakry and Cote d’Ivoire”, said Helena Maleno, a human rights and immigration activist in the Melilla region.
Maleno is also said that there were 21 deceased as opposed to 16, the number reported by local authorities. She added that the deceased migrants were travelling in a boat that had 47 passengers on board.
Although the rescuing teams have not yet found additional bodies, or migrants who may have survived the shipwreck, the region’s authorities commented in an official declaration that a team of “Specialists in Underwater Activities” had been dispatched to “the shipwreck area in support of Moroccan patrol boats.”
The city of Melilla is said to have experienced a “migratory boom” in the recent years. According to the Spanish Ministry of Interior, 681 migrants arrived in the city in 29 boats in 2017, compared to only 70 migrants and 3 boats in 2016.