The maritime rescue service reported on Monday that a Spanish reconnaissance plane has potentially discovered a fishing vessel from Senegal, which has been missing for nearly two weeks, with an estimated 200 migrants on board.
A spokesperson for the maritime rescue service informed media that the plane has located a sizable boat approximately 71 miles south of Gran Canaria, carrying around 200 individuals. While it is “possible” that this is the missing vessel, further confirmation is awaited.
The spokesperson added that a rescue ship was en route to the location and estimated that it would take approximately two-and-a-half hours to reach the area.
On Sunday, migrant aid group Walking Borders revealed that the fishing vessel, along with two other boats, had been missing for approximately two weeks.
One of the boats was reported to carry around 65 individuals, while the other boat was estimated to have between 50 and 60 people on board. These boats had departed from Senegal with the aim of reaching Spain.
On Monday, Helena Maleno from Walking Borders expressed that the families of the approximately 300 migrants aboard the three boats had not received any updated information regarding the location or status of their loved ones.
In an effort to locate the missing boats, Maleno’s organization reached out to authorities in Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, and Spain, urging them to initiate search operations.
Departing from the village of Kafountine in Senegal’s Cassamance region, which has faced a prolonged insurgency, all three boats embarked on their journey at the end of June.
Kafountine is situated approximately 1,700 km (1,057 miles) away from Spain’s Canary Islands.
The Atlantic migration route, commonly utilized by migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, is recognized as one of the most perilous in the world. In 2022 alone, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration reported that at least 559 individuals lost their lives while attempting to reach the Canary Islands.
According to data provided by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex, a total of 1,135 migrants originating from Senegal have already arrived in the Canary Islands this year.