13 Would-Be Migrants Wash up on Moroccan Beach

Published September 9th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Moroccan rescue services were searching Saturday for dozens of people still missing at sea after 13 bodies were washed ashore, reported the BBC.online.  

A survivor said the 13 were from a group of 50 would-be migrants whose boat had capsized off Morocco's coast.  

According to Moroccan television, there were as many as 60 people on board at the time.  

The TV showed just one survivor from the incident.  

He was found along with the bodies between the Atlantic coastal towns of Sid Taibi and Bouknadel, near the town of Kenitra, said the news service.  

They had got aboard a small fishing boat earlier on Saturday in an attempt to get to Europe, the survivor said.  

The Moroccan news agency MAP said Spanish rescue services joined in the search for any other possible survivors.  

The would-be migrants are believed to have paid traffickers about $800 each to be smuggled to Europe.  

Moroccan police said the group had been brought by bus earlier in the day from the central town of Beni Mellal.  

In a separate incident, the Moroccan navy said it had intercepted a dinghy in the Atlantic carrying 39 people.  

Moroccan television said the 39 - all Moroccan migrants - were given first aid. 

Dozens of people from both North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa attempt each day to cross from Morocco to the Spanish coast, where they hope to evade police patrols and begin a new life in Europe. 

The issue of illegal migration has strained bilateral relations in recent days, after King Mohammed VI of Morocco suggested Spain shared the blame for the situation.  

He alleged that Spanish mafia gangs were responsible for the increase in the number of illegal immigrants trying to enter Spain by boat from Morocco.  

The Spanish Foreign Minister, Josep Pique, responded by saying the collusion of Moroccan police in the clandestine smuggling of people across the Strait of Gibraltar was "too clear for anyone to deny." – Albawaba.com  


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