Tourists in #Gran_Canaria are left stunned as 24 migrants including three children and a pregnant woman in a rickety boat land on popular beach on the holiday isle
Tourists in Gran Canaria were left stunned today when 24 migrants including three children and a pregnant woman landed in a rickety boat on a popular beach.
Sunbathers in the Canary Islands joined forces with emergency workers to give water, food and clothes to migrants who arrived unexpectedly on the rocky shores of Aguila beach, in San Bartolome de Tirajana.
Exhausted, cold and some seemingly in a state of shock after weathering the Atlantic, the two dozen migrants were given thermal blankets and towels by rescue workers as they were finally able to rest on the beach.
Red Cross officials said the migrants, who were from northern and sub-Saharan Africa, told them of six days spent navigating at times rough waters. ’It was a really tough journey,’ Jose Antonio Rodriguez of the Red Cross said.
The group included 12 men, eight women and three children - six of whom were treated at a local hospital. None were reported to be in serious condition.
Sunseekers, who ranged from tourists visiting the island to locals, sprang into action after the boat arrived, he said.
’They were the first ones to help out, giving them food, water and milk for the babies after they saw how hungry they were,’ he said. ’They also gave clothing as the migrants were soaking wet.’
In the extraordinary incident, one woman cradled a weary migrant in her lap as another swimsuit-clad woman gave her water. Another used his beach towel to keep her feet warm.
Photographs show the migrants wrapped in gold emergency blankets and laying on the rocky beach as rescue service members work to provide them with bottles of water and sandwiches.
British holidaymakers Gavin and Bernadette Rodgers witnessed the landing while on a dolphin watching trip during their pre-Christmas break to the island, which is located off the northwest coast of Africa.
The pair had paid 30 euros for the trip, which set off from Puerto Rica on Gran Canaria with a small group of German and British tourists. An hour and a half into the two hour trip, the tour hadn’t seen a single dolphin.
’We were all scanning the sea, almost giving up hope. Suddenly a crew member came up on deck and said we had drifted very close to the coast of Africa,’ Mrs Rodgers said. ’They had been alerted by the coast guard that we needed to be vigilant in case we encountered a boat from there.
’Strangely my first thought was we might be about to be kidnapped by armed pirates. But the crewman said no, it was a boatful of immigrants heading for Europe who may have been drifting for days. I was relieved and gratified. We can rescue help these people and bring them to safety.’
Some 27,594 migrants had arrived in Spain this year by mid-November, according to data from the Interior Ministry, a decrease of more than 50 per cent from the same period last year.
The popular tourist destination of the Canary Islands, however, has seen an increase of 22 per cent in arrivals, with 1,493 migrants arriving so far this year by mid-November.