Spain’s coastguard said Monday it had deployed a plane to search for 200 migrants aboard a boat missing in the Atlantic after setting off from the coast of Senegal.
In a message on Twitter, Salvamento Maritimo said the rescue plane, which is based in the Canary Islands, was looking for a boat “that left Senegal with around 200 people on board”.
“With the plane, we have been searching a very wide area south of Gran Canaria and Tenerife but we haven’t found it,” a spokeswoman told AFP.
Helena Maleno, head of Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras that helps boats in distress, confirmed that a boat had left the southern town of “Kafountine on 27 June with approximately 200 people on board”.
“The families told us about the disappearance of the boat saying they had had no news for several days,” she said in an audio message, indicating the NGO had alerted the Spanish and Moroccan authorities.
The Atlantic route is extremely perilous because of its strong currents, with migrants often setting sail in overcrowded boats which are unseaworthy.
Migrant crossings to the Atlantic archipelago began surging in late 2019 after increased patrols along Europe’s southern coast dramatically reduced Mediterranean crossings.