Horrifying moment migrant boat bursts into flames in the Med (VIDEO)
Some 34 migrants were travelling off the Spanish coast on Sunday when the overloaded vessel’s engine appeared to burst into flames.
Footage, shot by the Portuguese Air Force, shows the passengers – most of whom are wearing life jackets – jumping into the sea to escape the flames.
Air force personnel, currently surveilling maritime areas with the European border and coast agency Frontex, threw the group a life raft and alerted Spanish coastguards.
Tomas Garcia, a Spanish coast guard manager with 24 years experience, said the rescue operation was “one of the most complex” his team has undertaken, adding that it was a “miracle” no lives were lost in the incident.
Nearly 10,000 migrants have been rescued off the coasts of Italy and Libya in the last week. It is thought that at least 54 have drowned.
Out of several large-scale rescue missions in the Mediterranean in recent times, the greatest tragedy occurred on May 24 when 35 migrants, including at least 10 children, drowned when their overloaded vessel struck a wave.
At least 1,400 people have drowned so far this year, mostly due to unworthy sea vessels trying to make it across the sea to Italy, according to UN figures. In the same period, more than 50,000 migrants have reached Italian coasts, most of them through Libya.