MADRID (AP) – Spanish and Moroccan rescuers are searching for African migrants who had been aboard a boat that capsized off Morocco’s northern coast, the Spanish government said Saturday.
A police patrol boat rescued 11 survivors after a Civil Guard helicopter spotted the sinking boat, the government said in a statement. Rescue services alerted the Royal Moroccan Navy, the statement said.
The bodies of seven women and one man were pulled from the water after rescue services from three Spanish ports had been scrambled, the statement said.
Spanish rescue services said planes, boats, helicopters and divers had retrieved some bodies and were searching for possible survivors.
Moroccan radio Medi1 said about 60 suspected migrants were believed to have been on the boat.
The small, inflatable boat sank near Perejil Island, 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) east from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the northern coast of Africa, early Saturday. The survivors have been taken to Morocco, the statement said.
Rickety boats regularly take African migrants on illegal journeys to European territory where they hope to find jobs and a better quality of life.