U.S., Spain have recovered 34 bodies from boat tragedy
NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — Search teams have discovered 34 bodies of immigrants who drowned trying to reach Spain in a small boat 11 days ago, according to Spanish officials.
More bodies floated to shore this past weekend.
Survivors have told Spanish authorities that as many as 50 people were aboard the small boat on Oct. 25 when rough seas sank the ship. One of the first bodies was found floating near the Navy base’s beach. All of the bodies found so far are those of North African men and women.
On Friday, U.S. and Spanish naval station security discovered six more bodies floating near the housing area, said Spanish Capt. José Caravaca, the base’s executive officer.
Eight bodies have been found at the naval station’s beach and pier area. Others have been found in the coastal cities of Rota, El Puerto de Santa Maria and Cadiz.
Civilian search-and-rescue teams working with military divers and security personnel have helped retrieve the corpses.
The bodies were stored temporarily at the U.S. Navy hospital until they were transported to Los Barrios, a town south of Rota, Caravaca said.
The latest immigrant shipwreck is one of the worst of its kind in Spain.
Each year, thousands of people from Africa try to sneak into Spain with hopes of finding a better life. Many try to flee in small boats by crossing the Strait of Gibraltar.
Sometimes they travel north up the coast of southwestern Spain to avoid detection by Spanish and Moroccan authorities patrolling the straits.
Many drown before they reach shore. Those who successfully make the journey often are caught and deported.