Four migrants have died close to shore in southern Spain after being forced out of the boat they were traveling in, officials said Thursday.
The Spanish government press office in the southern province of Cadiz said that 31 other people from the boat, including six children, survived and four were taken to a hospital.
The press office said 27 passengers were forced out on Wednesday afternoon by those piloting the vessel near Camposoto beach, which is where the four died. Another eight were forced off close to another beach, it added.
A video shot by a man who works in the area showed migrants being pushed overboard from the boat and others in the choppy waters trying to swim to shore.
Javier González, who runs a nautical company, said that he and his son managed to rescue eight people. He said that they and other workers helped the migrants on the beach.
In a voice message to The Associated Press, González said that no police officers or marine rescue personnel took part in in the initial rescue.
The boat drivers sped off, the press office said. Police used drones to try to locate them but weren't successful, the office said.
Officials said the migrants were from unspecified North African countries.
Smugglers sometimes force the migrants off the boats when approaching the Spanish coast so they can escape before police spot them.
Spain’s state news agency Efe said the boat used Wednesday is of a high-speed type normally used by drug traffickers between Spain and Morocco.
“They are unscrupulous people and, when you don’t have scruples, it doesn’t matter if what they have to throw overboard are bales of hashish or people,” Francisco Mena, president of the Campo de Gibraltar Alternative Anti-Drug Coordinator in Cadiz, told the agency.
Tens of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan countries try to reach Spain each year in large open boats launched from northwest Africa. Most go to the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, while others try to cross the Mediterranean Sea to mainland Spain.
Several thousand are known to die making the hazardous journey.