Spain rescues 86 people from boat near Canary Islands

The Spanish coastguard says it has rescued 86 people from a boat off the Canary Islands that had been spotted earlier in the day by a rescue plane.

A plane and ship were dispatched to initially search for a fishing vessel from Senegal that had about 200 people on board and had been missing for nearly two weeks.

The rescue service initially thought the boat spotted on Monday by the reconnaissance plane 114km (71 miles) to the south of the island of Gran Canaria could have been the missing vessel.

But its spokesperson said the rescue service found 86 people on board and only a further investigation would show where it had sailed from. The boat was being towed to Gran Canaria.

The rescue service said it could not confirm that the rescued boat was one of the three reported missing. It also said it had alerted boats sailing in Atlantic waters between the Canary Islands and West Africa to be on the lookout for other migrant boats still missing.

The refugee aid group Walking Borders said on Sunday that the fishing vessel and another two boats – one carrying about 65 people and the other with 50 to 60 on board – had been missing for about two weeks after they left Senegal to try to reach Spain.

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