The maritime service of the Guardia Civil intercepted two boats early on Friday morning, just 22 kms off the coast and carrying 21 immigrants, four of whom are said to be children.

The boats were carrying 10 and 11 passengers respectively and were found about 13 miles south-west of the Torrevieja harbour. When detected at about 9am, they are thought to have been heading to Alicante

A spokesman for the Alicante Operations Centre said that all appear to be in good health and all were subjected to a medical examination by Cruz Roja Alicante shortly after they arrived in the 2 x 30hp vessels.

The security forces said they are of North African origin and seem to be heading up a flotilla of similar craft which were thought to be further south and closer to the coastline of Murcia.

The arrival of boats coincides with periods with good maritime conditions which is the favoured time of travel for the immigrants.