MADRID (Reuters) - More than 500 migrants were rescued in the Atlantic Ocean off Spain's Canary Islands, the Spanish coastguard said on Saturday, as the number of people arriving on the archipelago so far this year neared an all-time record posted in 2006.
The coastguard said they had also found two dead bodies among those rescued from four boats in the waters off El Hierro, the smallest and most westerly of the Canary Islands.
Two other people died later in hospital, said the Spanish Civil Guard, which also took part in the rescue in which women and children were among those saved.
The number of arrivals has recently jumped as milder weather and calmer seas since September have made it more feasible to attempt the still perilous crossing from Africa.
Spain's Interior Ministry said on Thursday that a total of 30,705 undocumented migrants had reached the Canary Islands in the first 10 months of this year, representing a 111% increase from the same period in 2022.
This figure compares with the full-year record of 31,678 migrants arriving on the Canary Islands in 2006, when other routes to Europe were blocked off.
The Canary Islands accounted for the bulk of the 43,290 undocumented migrants arriving in Spain by sea last year.
The archipelago lies around 100 km (60 miles) off Africa's west coast. Its seven islands have become the main destination for migrants from Senegal and other African countries trying to reach Spain, fleeing conflict or seeking a better life.
The Spanish government said it would create additional emergency accommodation for some 3,000 migrants in military barracks, hotels and hostels.
(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Editing by Gareth Jones)