Gran Canaria, Spain, Apr 27 (EFE).- Spanish coastguards and a Hong Kong merchant ship have rescued 56 people traveling aboard an unseaworthy migrant vessel at risk of sinking in the Atlantic Ocean off the southwest of Spain’s Canary Islands.
The rescue mission took place on Tuesday evening some 107 kilometers (66 miles) from the Canary Island of Fuerteventura.
Spanish coastguards deployed from Las Palmas, on the island of Gran Canaria, but requested assistance from a passing merchant vessel, the Fortune Bell, which was en route from Gibraltar to the Ivory Coast.
The Hong Kong ship rescued 43 of the migrants, the majority of sub-Saharan origin, by the time the Salvamar Mízar vessel arrived at the scene.
Under normal procedure, merchant vessels such as the Fortune Bell, which is almost 200 meters (656 feet) in length, are advised against carrying out rescue operations due to the threat of small vessels capsizing in the wake or colliding with the hull.
The merchant crew advised Spanish coastguards on Tuesday that the migrant vessel was at risk of sinking.
The Salvamar Mízar rescued 13 people from the migrant boat.
The perilous Atlantic crossing between continental Africa and Spain’s Canary Islands was the deadliest in the world last year, accounting for one fifth of the nearly 6,000 recorded deaths and disappearances on migratory transit routes, according to data from the International Organization for Migration.EFE