Immigration

Holidaymakers in Gran Canaria help 24 migrants after boat lands on beach

The bathers were enjoying the warm weather when they saw the small vessel approach the rocky coast with three babies and three children on board

Beachgoers help migrants on Águila beach (Spanish text).PHOTO: BORJA SUÁREZ | VIDEO: REUTERS
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria - 02 Dec 2019 - 10:47 UTC

Beachgoers at Águila beach in the south of Gran Canaria, in Spain’s Canary Islands, helped 24 migrants who landed there after arriving in a small boat on Friday. The vessel was carrying migrants from northern and sub-Saharan Africa, and on board there were three babies, three children, 10 men and eight women, two of whom were pregnant.

After arriving near the rocky shore, the migrants jumped into the water and tried to make their way to the beach. The holidaymakers, stunned by what they were seeing, quickly did what they could to help, providing the migrants with water, food and clothes to use as blankets. Some of the bathers went to a nearby supermarket to buy milk and feeding bottles for the three babies, and cold meats, bread and yogurt for the rest.

Although there were no victims, 13 migrants were taken to different health centers to get treated for dehydration, dizziness and vomiting, according to Spanish news agency EFE. One of the babies had to be evacuated to the Las Palmas Maternal and Child Hospital.

The migrants had spent five days at sea. Some of them tried to run away once they arrived at the beach, but had little success.

More than 27,000 migrants have arrived in Spain this year, less than half the number from the year before, according to the Interior Ministry. But the Canary Islands has seen arrivals jump by 22% this year. In the beginning of November, nine migrants died after their boat capsized in Lanzarote. The Canary Islands, which attract many Spanish and foreign tourists with its year-round temperate climate, has become an increasingly popular route for migrants wishing to reach European soil. But not everyone makes it.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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