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Coastguard rescues 149 African migrants in Strait of Gibraltar
RAFTS carrying over 40 migrants have been intercepted in the Strait of Gibraltar and 149 Africans rescued, the coastguard revealed this morning (Sunday).
Five barely-seaworthy sailing boats were spotted between 05.00 and 14.00 yesterday, including two blow-up motor-boats carrying 43 and 46 people respectively.
The former was sighted around noon, and one of the occupants – of North African or Magrib extraction – was unconscious after suffering a blow to the head.
He was taken to Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz province) by helicopter and from there to a hospital in Sevilla.
The rest were taken to the port of Tarifa (Cádiz province) where the Red Cross treated some of them for burns and dehydration.
Authorities say the second of the boats was carrying a woman and nine men of sub-Saharan African origin, although most of them were in the water by the time the lifeboat reached them as their craft was threatening to capsize.
It came after an earlier one carrying four women and nine men.
The third craft had 37 people on board, with at least one woman and one child among them.
All of them were in good health, although most needed first aid and fluids to combat dehydration.
The majority, apart from the 46 on the fifth craft, were sub-Saharan Africans.
As they had reached Spanish waters by the time they were rescued, they are officially considered 'migrants' and cannot be returned, as would be the case if they had been caught whilst still on Moroccan soil, when they would fall under the jurisdiction of the authorities of the North African country.
Now in Spain, they will be housed at a migration centre, or CETI, until the paperwork is processed to return them to their countries of origin or an application for asylum is successful and they are granted refugee status.
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