(Updates number of immigrants rescued and the number of boats.)

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A total of 47 immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa were saved on Saturday by a Spanish maritime rescue unit as they were crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in three fragile boats.

As Spain's emergency management agency told Efe, the first of the boats was located 2 miles at sea from the port of Tarifa in southern Spain, and was carrying 28 people - 14 women, nine men and five babies.

It was members of the ship's crew that alerted the Spanish Civil Guard of the situation, after which the vessel's positioning device was activated to pinpoint its whereabouts.

All on board were in good health and have been taken to Tarifa to be attended by the Red Cross.

After bringing those migrants ashore, the maritime rescue unit kept the operation going and found a second boat with 12 immigrants aboard, all sub-Saharan men who are now also being cared for by the Red Cross after landing at the port of Tarifa.

Then a third vessel was located carrying seven immigrants, but since it is still in Moroccan waters, only two of the passengers have been taken to the port of Tarifa for medical attention. EFE