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article imageSpain holds two alleged smugglers over migrant deaths

By AFP     Jan 18, 2018 in World

Spanish authorities have detained two men allegedly responsible for a boat carrying migrants to the Canary Islands, seven of whom drowned or died from "hypothermia, exhaustion and hunger", a court said Thursday.

The inflatable boat was found Monday off a beach at the popular resort of Costa Teguise in Lanzarote in Spain's Canary Islands with five bodies inside. Two others were found dead outside the boat.

"Judicial authorities have confirmed that the seven victims were all adults and two died drowning and five from hypothermia, exhaustion and hunger," the Canaries' high court said in a statement.

Two men "thought to be of Moroccan nationality" were sent to jail over the incident, a court spokesman told AFP, adding that the pair had no ID on them.

One of them is only 19 years old, according to a bone test done to determine his age.

He was identified by other passengers on the boat as one of the two "bosses," the statement said.

Some 20 other migrants survived the crossing.

The Canary Islands archipelago off the coast of Morocco were once a prized destination for migrants hoping to reach Spain's shores and access Europe to begin new lives.

But migrants are increasingly favouring the so-called western Mediterranean trail, which sees migrants making the sea crossing between north Africa and southern mainland Spain.

A total of 1,916 migrants have reached Europe by sea since the beginning of the year, according to the International Organization for Migration, and a further 194 died or disappeared during the crossings.

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