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THE Balearic Air Sea Rescue service attended a total of 456 incidents during 2006, which was an increase of 25.3 percent in the number of missions in comparison with 2005.

The greatest number of incidents attended were for ships which were drifting or had run aground, according to provisional figures released by the Service.

According to sources from the Air Sea Rescue Service, last year there were 167 cases of drifting boats, 53 which had run aground endangering the crew, 44 cases of drifting objects, 27 transfers from cruise ships and fishing boats for medical reasons, and 11 cases of fire.

To these figures must be added an indeterminate number of missions undertaken in conjunction with other maritime services.
The most significant increase was in relation to the number of ships running aground, which went from 30 in 2005 to 53 last year, while the number of drifting boats also recorded a large increase, 167 last year in comparison with 119 in 2005.

By islands, the greatest number of incidents were on Majorca, followed by Ibiza and Formentera, and then Minorca, where the least number of incidents was recorded.

Also, sources from the Service explained that the greatest number of problems were experienced out at sea, where the Balearic Air Sea Rescue Service looks after 85'000 square kilometres of water, in conjunction with services from France, Algiers and the Spanish mainland.

With regard to the increase in the number of incidents attended, sources from the Service explained that this coincided with the increase in boat traffic registered last Summer.

They also cited causes related to the weather, specifically the strength of the wind along the coast.