Disturbing photographs of illegal immigrants who died as they tried to realise their dreams of a new life in Europe covered the front pages of Spanish newspapers.
The caption accompanying one picture, in the daily, El Mundo, read: "They are not sleeping, they are dead". The picture showed a group of west African immigrants who died in a small kayak trying to reach the Canary Islands, possibly from cold, hunger or thirst.
They may have been wearing the clothes of others who died before them in the same tiny boat, but whose bodies were hauled overboard to make room for those still alive, El Mundo's report said.
It was the first time that the Spanish media have carried such stark images of what could await those contemplating putting to sea in an effort to reach the Canaries. The ultimate goal of those who risk their lives is to reach mainland Spain, then possibly other parts of Europe, including Britain.
Publication of the photographs followed a promise by the Spanish authorities to crack down on illegal immigration, and the repatriation of more than 750 Africans, including 30 children, who were caught last week trying to enter the Canary Islands. Almost 600 were Senegalese.
Spain blamed the influx on the fact that the European Union's external borders agency, Frontex, had suspended maritime patrols. The Interior Minister, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, warned that illegal migrants arrested in Spanish territory would be expelled. "This is an unmistakable message to the mafias who run human-smuggling operations," he said.
Authorities in Cape Verde have asked a biologist to try to identify the bodies of the immigrants whose pictures appeared on the front covers of newspapers - and also featured widely on television news - so they can be repatriated.
The 12 migrants were spotted near the Cape Verde island of Santiago in March last year, but efforts to identify them have failed. No relatives have contacted police. The dead migrants are thought to have come from Mauritania.
Luis Felipe López Jurado, president of the Association for Sustainable Development and Conservation of Biodiversity, said: "The pictures were awful, and the worst thing is no one knows they have died."
But some charity workers believe the gruesome pictures would not put off thousands of others from making the same journey.
Teresa Gonzalez, president of Medicos del Mundo, said: "This a world problem and the real culprits are the mafias who convince the migrants that it is an easy journey. Issues of territory and jurisdiction do not make any difference."
One report by Spanish security services claimed that in 2005 up to 1,700 migrants from Mauritania had died at sea. But the charity Andalucian Human Rights put the number far higher, at 7,000, and claimed that one in three kayaks never reaches Spanish territory.
Last year, more than 30,000 illegal immigrants were caught trying to reach the islands, which are popular holiday destinations for Britons. The vast majority sailed from west Africa in crowded open boats. So far this year, 13 are known to have died, but many more may have perished attempting the journey.
Spanish law allows 40 days to identify and repatriate the migrants, after which they must be freed.
Fontex suspended the maritime patrols in April. A new mission is expected to begin within weeks, after the agency receives equipment including planes, helicopters and boats.
Source:El Mundo, Independent