Spain's coastguard has said it rescued 86 irregular migrants from sub-Saharan Africa from a boat off the Canary Islands that appeared to be the boat spotted earlier in the day by a rescue plane.
Among those rescued were 80 men and six women, who would be taken to Arguineguin port on Gran Canaria, the coastguard said on Monday, indicating they were expected to arrive around 1900 GMT.
The Salvamento Maritimo coastguard service had initially estimated "it could have around 200 people on board" but later said the estimate, made by the plane's crew, was incorrect, saying it was "difficult to determine the number of people from the air."
The boat had been spotted about 130 km (71 nautical miles) south of Gran Canaria with the coastguard saying it was located "in an area where (the plane was) looking for a vessel that left Senegal two weeks ago".
"It's very likely the same boat that we've been looking for," the spokesperson had said.
Three boats missing
Migrant aid group Walking Borders said on Sunday that a fishing vessel with about 200 people and another two boats - one carrying about 65 people and the other with between 50 and 60 on board - had been missing for about two weeks.
Most of those migrants are still feared missing.
Helena Maleno, the group’s spokesperson, said the boats left 15 days ago from Senegal's southern village of Kafountine for Spain’s Canary Islands.
The Atlantic migration route, typically used by migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, is one of the world's deadliest.
At least 559 people died in 2022 in attempts to reach the Canary Islands, according to the UN's International Organisation for Migration.
Data from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex shows 1,135 migrants originating from Senegal had arrived in the Canaries so far this year.