A migrant swims frantically towards a rescue ship off the coast of Libya in the early hours of Thursday night, Aug. 2, 2018. Rescuers from the Spanish non -profit Open Arms saved 87 migrants off the coast of Libya in a dramatic nighttime operation. The group included eight minors. (AP Photo/Valerio Nicolosi)

Spain saves 223 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean

August 04, 2018 - 10:26 am

MADRID (AP) — Spanish authorities say they have rescued 223 migrants attempting the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea.

Spain's maritime rescue service says its craft intercepted three boats carrying 180 people Saturday and a Civil Guard vessel pulled 43 others from a fourth boat.

Spain is seeing an uptick in the number of migrants landing on its shores from Africa after Italy shut down its ports to aid groups who rescued migrants at sea.

Since the end of May, almost 15,000 migrants have been saved from boats in Spanish waters — more than 240 people a day as Spain surpassed Italy as the main EU destination for migrants coming by sea.

In addition, more than 1,500 migrants have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean as smugglers turn to even more unseaworthy vessels.

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