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Jun 24, 9:42 AM EDT

Spain rescues 224 migrants from 5 boats in Mediterranean

MADRID (AP) -- Spain's maritime rescue service says it has rescued 224 migrants from five different boats trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

The rescue service says it reached two boats, carrying 66 and 77 migrants, in the Strait of Gibraltar overnight. A third boat with nine migrants was intercepted around daybreak Saturday in the same waters.

A few hours later, a Portuguese plane with the European Union Frontex border patrols spotted two more boats to the east, carrying 35 and 37 migrants each.

The rescue service says the migrants were from North and sub-Saharan Africa.

Tens of thousands of people cross the Mediterranean Sea each year, trying to reach Europe from North Africa, the vast majority in unreliable smugglers' boats. Over 1,800 people have died in the Mediterranean so far this year.

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