Spain sees surge of migrants by sea from Morocco

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Media captionTom Burridge reports on the "unprecedented" numbers of migrants

More than 1,200 migrants have entered Spain illegally by sea over two days amid Spanish denials that Morocco failed to carry out patrols.

The interior ministry said the wave of migrants was the result of increased defences at the borders of two Spanish territories in North Africa.

More sub-Saharan migrants were now trying to reach Spain by boat, a Spanish spokesman told BBC News.

Co-operation between the two countries over migration remained good, he added.

Good weather conditions over the past two days have also been a factor, the BBC's Tom Burridge reports from Madrid.

It is believed to be one of the largest number of migrants to reach the country in such a short period of time, our correspondent says.

Women and children

As immigration centres in southern Spain struggled with the numbers, the government spokesman in Madrid denied reports in the Spanish media that the Moroccan authorities had failed to carry out patrols on Monday and Tuesday.

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Image caption African migrants rest inside a sports centre in Tarifa, Spain, on Wednesday
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Image caption Migrants climb the border fence in Melilla, between Morocco and Spain, on Tuesday

Since Monday, Spain's coastguard has rescued 126 small dinghies and boats, carrying a total of 1,229 migrants who were making the short, but often perilous, crossing from Morocco to Spain.

On Tuesday alone, 920 people made the crossing in 94 boats, with 116 women and 26 children aboard.

Thousands of sub-Saharan migrants live in makeshift camps in northern Morocco.

There have also been four attempts, by groups of migrants, to scale the border fence at Melilla within the past 24 hours.

On Wednesday morning, around 600 migrants attempted to cross into Melilla but reports suggest that none of the migrants made it into the Spanish territory.

On Tuesday, however, around 80 migrants managed to enter Melilla, which is a major crossing point for those seeking work or asylum in Europe.

Together with a second Spanish enclave, Ceuta, Melilla is the European Union's only land border with Africa.

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