Hundreds of migrants rescued off Spain over two-day Christmas period

Spain’s coastguard picked up more than 100 people around the Zaffarin islands off the coast of Morocco

A Spanish coast guard and a member of the Spanish Red Cross help disembark migrants after dozens of them were rescued in a raft off the coast at the Mediterranean Sea, at the port of the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla, November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jesus Blasco de Avellaneda
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Around 100 migrants were rescued off the coast of Spain on Thursday, adding to around another 200 plucked off makeshift boats on Christmas Day, Spain's maritime rescue service said.

More than half of them were found off the Costa Blanca on Spain's south-east coast, with 10 people rescued just before dawn, among them eight men, a woman and a child.

Later in the morning, rescuers saved 16 men off a boat near Torrevieja, while another 12 men were rescued from a dinghy off Xabia, some 45 kilometres up the coast from Benidorm.

And on Spain's southern coast, 17 men were found in waters off Cabo de Gata near Almeria while another man was found floating on what rescuers described as "an inflatable toy boat" in the Motril area, with his friend feared drowned.

Another 39 people reached the shore at Punta Jandia on the south-west tip of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, the spokesman said.

There was no immediate information on the nationalities of those rescued.

Some 200 others were rescued on Christmas Day in a number of separate operations off the coast of Spain and Morocco.

About 120 of them were picked up around the Zaffarin islands off Morocco and the tiny islet of Alboran, Spain's coastguard said.

Several other dinghies were found off Spain’s south-east coast, off Gibraltar and near the Canary Islands.

So far this year, at least 1,250 men, women and children have died attempting to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean, the UN's International Organisation for Migration said in a statement correct to December 20.