MADRID (AP) — Spain's maritime rescue service says it has saved 59 migrants, nearly all minors, trying to make the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea in a small boat.

The service says that the migrants were located Saturday in the Strait of Gibraltar by a Civil Guard patrol craft, which escorted them to a rescue ship. The Guardia Civil reported to the service that 51 of the occupants were under 18.

The other passengers were seven women and one adult man. All appeared to be of northern African descent, according to authorities.

Spain became the leading entry point for migrants to Europe in 2018, with about 57,000 unauthorized border crossings.

The International Organization for Migration says 840 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year.