Four migrants have died and at least 10 more are missing after attempting a sea crossing to Spain.
Rescue services said they located a boat adrift around 30 nautical miles north of Melilla, a Spanish exclave city located on the northern coast of Africa.
Rescuers saved around 55 people, three of whom were in serious condition. One of the latter died after reaching Melilla, where the migrants were taken. There are three children among the survivors, said government sources in Melilla.
The same sources said that the rescue vessel Salvamar Spica found the migrant boat almost completely sunken, with three dead bodies aboard. A rescue helicopter was dispatched to the area to try to locate the missing people.
At 11.15pm on Monday, the surviving migrants, who hail from sub-Saharan Africa and from Asia, arrived at the recreational port of Melilla, where they were greeted by Red Cross volunteers who provided assistance and took some of them to local hospitals.
Personnel from the United Nations Refugee Agency were also on hand to determine whether any of the migrants might require international protection.
After receiving early assistance at the port, the migrants were taken to the local temporary holding facility, CETI, which is already over capacity due to an influx of migrants since August. Sources familiar with the situation said that several tents have been set up to provide accommodation for all the people housed at the center. In the last week alone, around 170 migrants have been taken to Melilla, including this latest group.
So far this year, over 300 people have drowned or disappeared in the Strait of Gibraltar and the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean as they attempted to reach Spain, a 42% drop from 2018. One out of every 100 migrants continues to die at sea.
English version by Susana Urra.