Moroccan rescue services on Friday retrieved the lifeless bodies of three babies and six adults who drowned while attempting to reach the Iberian peninsula by boat, authorities in Tangier reported.
Another 21 people who were on board the same vessel were rescued at around noon four nautical miles out of Tangier, after an aid worker alerted authorities that a migrant boat had just left the Moroccan coastal city.
A spokesman for Caminando Fronteras, a non-profit group that works with immigrants in Morocco, said there were eight babies on board, all of whom are presumed dead.
The group said it believed 20 people were still missing, but Moroccan rescue services ruled out this possibility and did not conduct any further searches.
Spanish rescue services also participated in the search, covering the area in the northern portion of the Strait of Gibraltar.
The drownings come two weeks after around 30 African migrants disappeared in waters near the coast of Almería. Another 29 people were found still onboard the vessel by a rescue ship.