Four migrants died and up to 16 are missing after trying to reach Europe from North Africa on a small raft, Spain’s coastguard said.
Rescuers saved 58 people from the raft, found drifting around 37 miles off Morocco on Tuesday. Three bodies were recovered from the water and another migrant died after being taken to shore, a spokeswoman for the coastguard said.
Seaborne migration to Europe dropped sharply since peaking in 2015 but thousands still attempt the dangerous Mediterranean crossing every year, looking to escape poverty and conflict in their home countries.
The latest group was brought to Spain’s North African enclave Melilla, where a Reuters photographer saw survivors helped ashore and given medical assistance by the Red Cross. Wrapped in thermal blankets, some migrants appeared to be in a state of shock.
European and Spanish authorities deployed boats and an aircraft in the search for 16 peopl believed to have been on the raft.
They are also searching for a separate craft carrying 78 migrants believed to have left from Morocco on Tuesday.
Before Wednesday’s deaths, at least 1 136 migrants had died or gone missing at sea this year after attempting the crossing, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
Italian authorities saved 149 people from a capsized dinghy off Lampedusa on Sunday. The bodies of five women were retrieved and others remain unaccounted for.
Spanish charity ships Open Arms and Aita Mari rescued more than 140 migrants from rafts off Libya last week and took them to Italy.