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February 29, 2024

More than 20 dead in migrant shipwreck off Senegal

More than 20 dead in migrant shipwreck off Senegal

Rescuers pulled more than 20 bodies from the sea off northern Senegal on Wednesday after a Europe-bound boat loaded with migrants sank, a regional governor told AFP, with fears rising for the missing.

“A little more than 20 bodies” had been found, Saint-Louis regional governor Alioune Badara Samb said by telephone, adding that another 20 people had been saved.

“Since the afternoon, we have been witnessing lifeless bodies wash up,” he said, with local rescuers and the navy searching for survivors after nightfall.

Badara Samb did not say how many passengers were aboard the vessel but survivors told AFP that the number could have been in the hundreds.

Mamady Dianfo, a survivor from Casamance in the far south of the country, said there were about 300 passengers when the boat left Senegal a week ago.

Another survivor, Alpha Balde, spoke of 200 passengers.

Dianfo said the vessel reached Morocco, where the captain said he was lost and could no longer continue the journey.

“We asked him to take us back to Senegal,” he added, saying the accident happened in the notoriously dangerous waters off Saint-Louis.

Senegal’s coasts are an increasingly common departure point for African migrants heading to the Spanish Canary Islands, their port of entry into Europe.

According to EU border agency Frontex, Senegal and Morocco are the most common nationalities of migrants arriving on the Atlantic archipelago.

In 2023, the number of migrants reaching the Canaries tripled to almost 40,000, the Spanish government said.