Morocco retrieves two migrant bodies after shipwreck
Two new bodies were found off the southern coast of Morocco, bringing the toll from a December migrant shipwreck to 15 dead, authorities said Monday.
"One body was found on Friday and another on Sunday," said Salem Aberdam, mayor of the Mirleft community south of Agadir.
Forty-five people had boarded a makeshift boat in a desperate bid to reach the Canary Isles, a Spanish archipelago over 100 kilometres (62 miles) off Morocco's Atlantic coast, news website Hespress reported.
Moroccan authorities found 13 bodies of Moroccan migrants on December 30 after their vessel foundered in waters off Mirleft.
"Searches are ongoing to find the bodies of the migrants who are still missing," Aberdam said.
Hespress said Sunday that the police had arrested a man aged 26 from the village of Guelmim, further south, suspected of involvement in the attempted trip.
Authorities are hunting for four other suspects, it reported.
Morocco, on Africa's northwestern tip, is a transit country for many migrants, particularly from further south on the continent, seeking to reach Europe.
Spanish aid group Caminando Fronteras says more than 11,200 migrants have died or disappeared since 2018 in attempts to reach Spain - around six a day.
The Morocco-Canaries route alone makes up almost 7,700 of that figure, as migrants deterred by European Union patrols in the Mediterranean seek to reach EU territory by another route.
Last year, migrant arrivals in Spain fell by a quarter compared to the previous year, to 31,219 compared with 41,945 in 2021, according to the Spanish interior ministry.