Morocco navy says 615 migrants saved in weekend ops

The Spanish coastguard announced on Sunday that in 48 hours it had rescued nearly 1,200 migrants bound for its shores -- a main entry point for clandestine migration into Europe.

FILE: A Spanish coast guard boat with migrants onboard arrives at Malaga's harbour on 23 September 2018, after an inflatable boat carrying 117 immigrants, 34 of them women and 4 children, was rescued by the Spanish coast guard off the Spanish coast. Picture: AFP

RABAT - Morocco's Royal Navy said Monday its forces rescued 615 migrants from 31 boats that ran into trouble in the Mediterranean at the weekend while trying to reach Spain.

The Spanish coastguard announced on Sunday that in 48 hours it had rescued nearly 1,200 migrants bound for its shores - a main entry point for clandestine migration into Europe.

All of the would-be migrants rescued by the Moroccan navy were brought back safely to the North African country's ports, the armed forces said in a statement carried by MAP news agency.

"Many of the boats that transported them sank due to their dilapidated state," the statement said, without giving the nationalities of those rescued.

On 1 October, 13 migrants died when their boat sank in waters off the northeastern city of Nador while around 30 others were rescued by Moroccan fishermen.

Days before that, Morocco's navy opened fire on a "go-fast" speedboat ferrying migrants to Spain, killing a 22-year-old student and wounding three other people.

More than 43,000 migrants have made it to Spain since the start of the year, including around 38,000 by sea, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

But more than 1,700 have died or disappeared in the Mediterranean during the same period, including 362 off the Spanish coast, according to the IOM.