GENEVA - United Nations agencies report the number of fatalities of migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea continues to increase as two more shipwrecks off the coast of Spain Thursday have claimed more lives.
The Spanish Coast Guard carried out a search and rescue operation in the Western Mediterranean on Thursday. UN agencies report some six boats were rescued in the Alboran Sea with at least 25 people reported dead or missing.
The UN refugee agency reports two boats had dead people on board who had died at the time of the rescue by Spanish search and rescue services. But, UNHCR spokeswoman, Liz Throssell, notes this is a developing story and the numbers are likely to change.
"On the one boat, we understand 33 people were rescued, including a person who, unfortunately, died later at the hospital and there were 12 people dead and 12 missing during the journey and apparently there was a massive sea swell that threw them into the water," said Throssell.
Throssell says a second boat had 57 people on board, as well as one person who had died during the rescue.
The International Organization for Migration reports more than 113,000 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea this year through three main migratory routes. IOM spokesman Joel Millman tells VOA that since mid-2017 there has been a constant rise in arrivals.
"What was remarkable and noticeable about Spain for most of this year was the volume of arrivals kept increasing but the fatalities reported were quite few," said Millman. "In the last two months, that situation has changed."
IOM has documented the deaths of 769 people in the waters between North Africa and Spain this year. It says this is more than triple the number recorded in 2017 and six times higher than in 2016.