Tiny boat with ‘record’ 280 migrants makes 240-mile trip to holiday hotspot

A tiny boat has arrived in Spain’s Canary Islands carrying 280 migrants – believed to be the largest ever to arrive at the archipelago in one go.

The sub-Saharan migrants arrived on the remote island of El Hierro, almost 400km (238 miles) off Africa’s western coast, the BBC reports. Pictures seen by the Express show a huge number of migrants squeezed onto a boat.

This record journey, across a treacherous section of the Atlantic, is becoming even more popular as an entry point to Europe due to tighter controls being put in place for the more well-known Mediterranean route.

In 2023 alone, 140 people have died or gone missing while attempting the trip to the Canary Islands, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Just under 15,000 migrants were successful in reaching the Canaries between January and September this year, which was an increase of 19.8 percent compared to the same period in 2022.

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Of the 280 who completed the journey yesterday (October 3), 78 were men and ten were children, according to French news website RFI.

Former Spanish migration adviser said he’d “never seen a boat with so many people on board.”

It comes amid a manic 48 hours of migration arrivals in the popular tourist destination.

Spanish media reported that yesterday alone, seven boats arrived with more than 600 migrants, causing chaos at reception centres on the islands of Lanzarote and El Hierro. Tents and temporary toilets were quickly put up, while a monastery under repair works had to be rushed through and opened so immigrants could spend the night.

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The Canary Islands president, Fernando Clavijo, lamented the main Spanish government, accusing them of “neglect” and stating it “must begin to offer solutions”.

Remarkably, the islands are home to around 2,900 unaccompanied immigrant children, at the cost of 14 million euros.

He explained the sudden increase of immigrants was expected due to the favourable weather for the crossings.

The “Canary Islands Plan” is the scheme that was set up for dealing with immigrants. There is currently space for 4,000 newcomers, and those who arrive are sent to mainland Spain within a month and a half, meaning the spaces remain free.

However, big influxes in arrivals will cause the reception centres to collapse, as happened yesterday.

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