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Last Updated: Monday, 24 July 2006, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Two dead on Canaries migrant boat
Would-be immigrant eats a biscuit in Los Cristianos on the Canary island of Tenerife. File photo
Hundreds of migrants arrived in the Canaries at the weekend
Two people have been found dead aboard a small boat that arrived in Spain's Canary Islands carrying 48 immigrants.

The boat from Africa was spotted by a merchant ship early on Monday. Many of the illegal immigrants have been transported to local hospitals.

Meanwhile, another boat carrying more than 30 illegal immigrants has landed on Spain's mainland, in the southern province of Almeria.

Spain and Malta are struggling to cope with an influx of migrants from Africa.

The European Union's Council of Ministers is preparing to discuss the issue in Brussels.

EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini is expected to report on plans to send rapid reaction border guard teams to countries facing a migration crisis.

The ministers' meeting follows another migration dilemma last week, when more than 40 people spent a week stranded on a fishing boat after Malta's authorities refused to allow them to disembark.

On Friday and Saturday, the Spanish authorities intercepted four boats carrying almost 250 migrants trying to reach the Canary Islands from the west African coast.

So far this year, about 11,000 illegal migrants have reached the Canaries - well above the number of arrivals for the whole of last year.

Once intercepted, the migrants are kept at holding centres. The Spanish authorities then have 40 days to return them to their home countries or release them.

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