Spain rescues over 500 migrants in Mediterranean

BARCELONA, May 27 (Reuters) - Spanish authorities rescued over 500 migrants this weekend from more than a dozen boats making the perilous Mediterranean crossing to Europe.

Following plane and helicopter searches, Spanish boats rescued almost 300 migrants from nine boats on Saturday, authorities said. As of Sunday afternoon, a further 250 migrants were rescued from eight boats, three of which were in poor condition and later sank, they added.

The migrants were from various countries in North and sub-Saharan Africa.

RELATED: Migrants in Greece attempt to escape to Italy 

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Migrants in Greece attempt to escape to Italy
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Migrants in Greece attempt to escape to Italy
A man looks out from under a truck as a port police officer waits to detain him at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
Migrants climb through a metal fence to exit the departures pier of the port of Patras, from where they try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, as they are chased by the Coast Guard and police officers, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A port police officer detains a man who was hiding under a truck, at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
Migrants climb a metal fence to exit the port of Patras, from where they try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, after being chased by the Coast Guard and police officers, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A man is detained after hiding under a truck, at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
Migrants climb a metal fence to exit the port of Patras, from where they try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, after being chased by the Coast Guard and police officers, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
Migrants climb through a metal fence to enter the departures pier of the port of Patras, from where they try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A driver inspects his truck after two migrants tried to hide inside, at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
Men sit on the roof of a disused building used as shelter, opposite the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
Men and boys are seen inside a self-made temporary shelter in a disused factory, near the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
People stand behind a metal fence at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A man has a shower inside a disused factory near the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
Men stand behind a metal fence at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
People run inside the departures pier of the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, as they are chased by the Coast Guard and police officers, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A man tries to hide inside a truck at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A port police officer detains a man who was hiding under a truck, at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A man runs away from a truck as a Coast Guard officer approaches at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A man tries to hide under a truck at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A port police officer detains a man (L) who was hiding under a truck as a K9 dog is restrained by a private security employee, at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
Migrants are silhouetted while resting next to the sea as a ferry sails for Italy, from the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries, in Patras, Greece, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
Migrants are gathered outside the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A man looks out from under a truck as a port police officer waits to detain him at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A man jumps off a truck, at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A man looks out from under a truck as a port police officer waits to detain him, at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
Men jump off a truck they were hiding in as Coast Guard officers stand by, at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
Two men run after jumping off a truck they were hiding in, at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
A man (3-R) speaks with a port police officer, as others climb a metal fence at the port of Patras, from where migrants try to smuggle themselves onto ferries to Italy, in Patras, Greece, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis 
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The number of people crossing into Spain by sea from North Africa, either via the Strait of Gibraltar or the Sea of Alboran, has increased significantly in recent years while arrivals to Italy and Greece via Libya have dropped. Around 19,000 people made the sea crossing in 2017, representing a 182 percent increase on the previous year. Europe's border agency Frontex said in January that it expected a further increase in irregular immigration to Spain this year, with flows boosted by the use of fast boats.

An Italian coastguard official said on Sunday more than 1,800 migrants attempting to cross from Libya to Italy were rescued over the past three days, following an improvement in the weather.

(Reporting by Sam Edwards Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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