Madrid: More than 600 refugees were rescued in the Mediterranean on Monday as they attempted to make the perilous crossing to Spain, the coastguard said.
While the overall number of refugees reaching Europe by sea is down from a peak in 2015, Spain has seen a steady increase in arrivals this year and has overtaken Italy as the preferred destination for people desperate to reach the continent.
On Monday, 626 people from sub-Saharan and north Africa were rescued from 16 boats in the Strait of Gibraltar and the Alboran Sea, the two principal sea crossings to Spain, a spokesman for the Spanish coastguard told AFP.
He said rescue workers were also on their way to save another boat in distress, but he did not know how many migrants were on board.
More than 28,500 people have arrived in Spain by sea so far this year, with 313 dying in the attempt, according to the International Organisation for Migration - more than during all of last year.