A total of 28 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were rescued Saturday in the Strait of Gibraltar by Moroccan police as they tried to reach the coast of Spain on five inflatable boats, the Spanish rescue service said.

Officials at Spain's Maritime Rescue service said the operation to save the migrants was launched after they were alerted by several calls for help from mobile phones with Moroccan telephone numbers.

A search operation was immediately put into effect by the Spanish Red Cross boat Hermes and Maritime Rescue's Alkaid, as well as by the Helimer 201 helicopter.

Moroccan patrol boats eventually found and intercepted the migrants' rubber boats off the coast of Morocco.

Moroccan police found the first two inflatable boats with three sub-Saharans on each, a third carrying 10 people and a fourth with four.

Soon afterwards a fifth boat was found with eight sub-Saharans aboard.

The 28 migrants were taken to the port of Tangiers by Moroccan authorities. EFE