MADRID - Spain rescued 319 people, including 59 women and 24 children, from seven boats trying to reach the Canary Islands Wednesday, AP reports, but activists fear 18 people died.

"Rescue means were activated too late," Helena Maleno, from the Walking Borders NGO, said.

The UN says 384 people died in 2021 on the so-called Western Mediterranean route from Africa to Spain, but Walking Borders said the true figure was far higher.