Moroccan authorities say that nine migrants, including three infants, drowned off the coast near Tangiers.

Four Royal Navy boats and two gendarme helicopters were sent to rescue the foundering inflatable craft and 21 people were rescued along with the recovery of nine bodies.

The statement from the Tangiers local government on Friday said the search for other survivors is continuing.

Morocco is a jumping off point for migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, but sometimes the rest of the Middle East, to head to Spain.

The Mediterranean is at its narrowest point between Spain and Morocco but choppy seas and heavy weather often claim the migrants traveling in leaky vessels.