updated 4/9/2007 8:15:31 AM ET 2007-04-09T12:15:31

Spanish authorities discovered three small boats in a 36-hour period carrying a total of 112 illegal immigrants trying to reach the Canary Islands, the Red Cross said Monday.

Spring usually marks the beginning of the yearly drama in which thousands of destitute Africans seeking to gain a foothold in Europe attempt treacherous journeys by sea to reach Spain.

All three of the new vessels arrived on beaches on the island of Gran Canaria — the first on Sunday morning, carrying 57 sub-Saharans, including two children. The other two boats were carrying 38 and 17 people.

Last year more than 30,000 immigrants were intercepted while sailing from Africa to the Canary Islands in small, crowded boats, and officials in the islands say more than 500 died along the way.

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