MADRID (AP) — Some 314 migrants arrived in Spain’s Canary Islands in two boats early Monday, bringing to more than 1,600 the number of migrants to reach the islands since Friday, emergency services said.
The service said one boat carrying 229 migrants was escorted to El Hierro island while another with 85 was taken to Tenerife .
Of the boats that arrived over the weekend, one on Saturday was carrying 320 migrants. The state news agency EFE said it was the largest number in a single boat since human traffickers began to regularly use the Canary Island route in 1994. The previous record of 280 was recorded earlier this month.
Most of the boats arrived at El Hierro, which has received several thousand migrants in recent weeks. The Canary Islands are located off the northwest coast of Africa.
Most of the migrants come from sub-Saharan African countries and most of the boats depart from Senegal.
Migrants arriving by boat in Spain spend up to 72 hours in police custody, for identification, then are moved into various reception or detention centers depending on their cases. Although some are deported, most apply for asylum and are taken to mainland Spain for their petitions to be studied.
In the end, many are freed and ordered to leave Spain if they don’t get asylum.
Spain’s Interior Ministry says nearly 23,500 migrants reached the Canary Islands by boat between Jan. 1 and Oct. 15. That’s a 90% increase from the same period last year.