Spanish intercept 800 migrants from Africa

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The Independent Online

Civil guard patrols have caught more than 800 African immigrants trying to illegally enter Spain by boat.

Police and Red Cross facilities used to detain immigrants were full afterpatrols picked up 567 Africans on Saturday and a further 237 along Spain's southwestern coast, close to northwest Africa, on Sunday.

"Police and Red Cross facilities are full. We can only hope the repatriation process is quick," said Pepe Cardenas, a Red Cross worker in Tarifa. He said the majority of immigrants were Moroccan men aged between 22 and 25 years.

Every year Africans seeking work in Europe pay to be taken across the Strait of Gibraltar, which is 14km (8.7m) wide at Tarifa. Others sail west from Morocco to the Canary Islands.

Civil Guards in the Canary Island of Fuerteventura were searching for 13 Africans on Sunday, who are believed to have been travelling in a boat which sank after hitting rocks. A body was pulled from the sea close to the island on Saturday.

More than 7,000 Africans have been stopped since January, according to authorities. Favourable seafaring weather is believed to be responsible for the increase in the numbers who have attempted the crossing in recent months.

The would-be immigrants sail overnight in single-engine Zodiac-type boats, often with more than 60 people aboard.

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