Forty people feared dead as woman rescued from dinghy off Canary Islands

About 40 migrants are feared dead after rescuers recovered a lone woman clinging to an overturned dinghy that had been carrying dozens of people trying to reach the Canary Islands.

A rescue helicopter carrying the survivor – a 30-year-old woman who appeared exhausted and shaken – landed at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria airport on Tuesday, after a cargo ship found her 135 miles off the coast.

Officials said the woman, who was found lying next to two bodies, was suffering severe dehydration and was “in a bad state”.

She told her rescuers she had begun the crossing from the African continent with “about 40 people”.

The coastguard had been alerted by another boat that had spotted the woman about 135 miles from the Spanish archipelago off the north-west coast of Africa.

The two bodies found next to her on the overturned boat were also recovered and brought ashore, a spokesperson said.

Weather conditions were reported to be bad at the time.

Last year, more than 23,000 migrants reached the Canary Islands, eight times more than the previous year, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry.

In the first seven months of 2021, 7,531 migrants have arrived in the Canaries, more than twice as many as in the same period in 2020.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, 850 migrants died or disappeared on the route to the Canary Islands in 2020.

Arrivals of migrants in the Canaries, after a perilous crossing from north Africa, have increased dramatically since late 2019 after checks on Mediterranean routes were tightened.

The Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras says at least 1,851 people lost their lives last year while attempting the crossing.

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