Two migrants forced to swim to shore drown – Spanish authorities

MADRID (Reuters) – Two migrants drowned and one was in a serious condition after they were ordered to swim to the shore by people piloting the boats, Spanish authorities said on Friday.

Two boats with 137 migrants, including at least three children, were near Adra, Almeria, in the Mediterranean on Friday morning, when the skippers forced them to swim to the coast so they could head back out to sea, the central government’s regional office said.

Spanish Guardia Civil received most of the migrants on dry land, but two drowned and one suffered hypothermia.

The coastguard is continuing to search the area by helicopter to check for others who may have drowned.

It is not known where the migrants departed from or their nationality.

TV footage showed the two corpses laid on the beach covered in blankets, while the other rescued migrants were receiving attention from the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Red Cross.

At least 3,672 people reached the Spanish mainland and its eastern Balearic Islands between Jan. 1 and May 31 this year, according to Spanish government figures, a 30% rise compared with the same period in 2022.

Overall, 8,140 reached Spain by sea, including the Canary Islands off the African coast, a 27% decrease from 2022.

Spain’s Walking Borders charity has said 2,390 people lost their lives trying to reach the country primarily by sea in 2022.

(Reporting by Elena Rodriguez. Writing by Emma Pinedo; Editing by Aislinn Laing and Sriraj Kalluvila)