The ship reached the isolated island of El Hierro, situated approximately 380km (238 miles) off the western coast of Africa, on Tuesday.

According to rescue personnel, the individuals onboard were of sub-Saharan African descent, marking the largest group of migrants to ever arrive in the archipelago simultaneously.

The crossing to the Canary Islands is one of the most commonly used and dangerous routes to Europe for migrants from Africa.

“I’ve never seen a boat with so many people on board,” journalist and former migration adviser Txema Santana said on social media after the vessel arrived.

Since the start of the year, 140 people have died or disappeared trying to make the crossing, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Use of the route has increased in recent years as tighter controls have been put in place to stop people crossing the Mediterranean from Africa’s northern coast.

A Vessel Transporting 280 Migrants Arrives in the Canary Islands

Between 1 January and 30 September this year, a total of 14,976 migrants arrived in the Canary Islands, an increase of 19.8% on the same period in 2022, according to figures from Spain’s interior ministry.

On Monday, Senegal’s navy said it had intercepted four boats over three days with more than 600 people on board.

In August, it is estimated that around 60 individuals perished aboard a vessel that was eventually located near Cape Verde, an African island nation situated along the migration route to the Canary Islands.

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