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Spain rescues 325 migrants over start of new year

The news comes just days after a charity rescue vessel carrying 311 mainly African migrants plucked off the coast of Libya docked in Spain.

African migrants are seen on a boat trying to cross the Mediterranean. Picture: @UNmigration/Twitter.

MADRID - Spanish coastguards rescued 325 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean over the first two days of the new year, they said on Wednesday.

The news comes just days after a charity rescue vessel carrying 311 mainly African migrants plucked off the coast of Libya docked in Spain, ending a traumatic journey which saw them spend Christmas at sea.

A spokesperson for Spain’s coastguards told AFP they had rescued 111 migrants on Tuesday in the Strait of Gibraltar and the Alboran Sea.

She added 214 more were rescued on Wednesday, and coastguards were searching for another boat in distress.

Spain has become Europe’s main entry point for migrants, overtaking Greece and Italy.

According to the International Organization for Migration’s latest figures, more than 56,000 migrants arrived in Spain by sea from 1 January to 19 December 2018, and 769 died trying.

The Spanish Committee for Refugee Aid says the number of victims is the highest since 2006.