Migrants capsize near Canary Isles, 3 dead

Migrants are attended by emergency personnel as they arrive at the port of Orzola on Lanzarote.
Camera IconMigrants are attended by emergency personnel as they arrive at the port of Orzola on Lanzarote. Credit: EPA

Authorities say at least three people have died and four are missing after a migrant boat carrying nearly 50 passengers capsized near Spain's Canary Islands.

The boat was approaching the shore of Orzola on the island of Lanzarote on Thursday night when it flipped a few metres from land, throwing the passengers into the water.

Emergency workers rescued 41 people, including 19 women and seven children, all with sub-Saharan nationalities.

They also recovered the bodies of two men and one woman.

Spain's national police said emergency workers continued searching on Friday for at least four more people, including a child.

Two more boats carrying a total of 110 migrant passengers reached the Canary islands of Fuerteventura and El Hierro on Friday, according to the Canaries' emergency services.

In the last two years, the number of migrants and asylum-seekers embarking on the perilous Atlantic voyage from the coast of West Africa to the Spanish archipelago has increased significantly, with more than 23,000 arrivals by sea to the Canaries in 2020, and nearly 6000 so far this year.

Border closures and restrictions on air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic have partly contributed to the increased traffic, along with tougher border controls to prevent Mediterranean sea crossings to Europe.

The latest deaths in Orzola raise this year's toll on the Atlantic route to the Canaries to at least 130 dead or missing, according to the UN's migration agency's Missing Migrants Project.

Of the deaths recorded so far this this year, only 58 bodies have been recovered.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails