A canoe with about 200 people on board was rescued this Thursday afternoon 14 nautical miles, about 26 kilometers, off the southwest coast of Gran Canaria. In the first count, 198 people were registered, apparently all adult males and some minors. With their skin whitened by the saltpeter they have been descending one by one on the Arguineguín dock in front of a large device of the Red Cross, Police and the European Border Control Agency (Frontex). Some staggered and limped, but were generally in good health, although they had wounds, symptoms of fainting and dehydration. At least six of them are receiving more specific medical attention to decide whether they should be transferred to the hospital. From the painting of the colors of the boat it is deduced that it is from Senegal, although many of its occupants have said to be from the Gambia.
The last time there are records of a boat of these characteristics with so many people on board was almost a year ago, when a cayuco with 195 people arrived on the island of Tenerife. The cayuco arrived at the port of Arguineguín around 5.30 pm (local time), towed by the Maritime Rescue boat. Many of its occupants, crowded together, carried their bodies out of the ship to gain space and sang to celebrate their arrival. When leaning out from the dock, silence fell, barely cut off by the surprise of those who are more than used to receiving boats in the port. “Muyayo, look how they come!” Exclaimed a Red Cross worker. Another Frontex worker has escaped a “¡Wow! ” while recording a video with his mobile.
As reported by Gerardo Santana, regional president of the Red Cross, the ship had been on the high seas for between four or five days. Santana has celebrated that they have found them before they entered the beach of Güigüí, a paradisiacal place but also known for being a point where the tides and the waves meet, which could have complicated a lot a rescue of so many people . “Thank God they found them earlier. The swells are tremendous and they would not have been able to disembark by their own means, ”Santana described.
The device on the dock is now waiting for two boats and another boat that have been located with about a hundred people on board in total. The first reports reveal some babies, although apparently they are in good health, according to Red Cross sources.
On the other hand, the island of Lanzarote is experiencing its most intense days, and between Wednesday and Thursday it has received eight boats with about 200 people on board. The island is now, together with Fuerteventura, the second port with the most arrivals, with about 20% of the total of almost 14,000 that the islands already register.
The ports of the Canary Islands are preparing for a hot autumn a year after the crisis that brought the archipelago to the headlines of international newspapers. Landings so far this year have doubled those of the previous year, when the lack of coordination and preparation of local and national authorities turned the arrival of 23,000 people into a serious humanitarian crisis, with thousands of people crammed into the Arguineguín pier , lack of reception and planning spaces.
Salvamento Marítimo has gone out in his search after 3:00 p.m. (local time, one more hour in the Peninsula) and due to the large number of people he has had to tow the cayuco.