The bodies of four Algerian migrants were retrieved after a makeshift raft capsized off the northeastern coast of Algeria. Five others were rescued by coast guards, according to the Algerian state news agency.

The migrants were traveling on a makeshift raft and were headed towards Europe, according to news agency, AFP. The bodies of four people were retrieved while five migrants were rescued, the Algerian news agency APS reported on Thursday.

The raft capsized 90 kilometers east of Mostaganem. According to the source cited by APS, no details about the circumstances of the shipwreck were provided.

All nine migrants are presumed to be Algerian nationals. AFP reported that the Algerian coast guard continued to search the area to find more possible victims. It was unclear how many migrants were traveling on the raft when it capsized.

Algerian coast guards had reportedly intercepted another vessel with 16 migrants nearby before the shipwreck occurred. APS cited an official source as saying that these 16 people would face charges for ‘attempting to leave the national territory illegally by sea.’

Any attempt to leave Algerian national territory illegally can be punished with up to six months in prison according to a law introduced in 2009, writes AFP.

Despite this law, more and more Algerians have attempted to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe in recent months.

This year, for the first time since 2016, most irregular migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean to Andalusian shores in Spain were Algerian nationals.

A report by the European Commission found that fewer Algerians are opting for the Moroccan route to reach Europe as they are leaving straight from Algerian shores instead.

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