Death toll in migrant boat sinking off Mauritania rises to 63

Mauritania flag [Photo: country flags]

A security official on Friday said five more bodies have been recovered after a boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Mauritania, raising the death toll to 63.

The boat bound for Spain capsized on Wednesday with up to 180 people aboard.

An unnamed official told Mauritania’s state news agency AMI that at least 20 people are thought to be unaccounted for and that the search was still ongoing for missing people off the Mauritanian city of Nouadhibou.

Initially, authorities in the West African country said at least 58 people had died in the incident and 85 survived.

The boat had set off on the journey to Spain from Gambia.

The office of Gambian President Adama Barrow said on Thursday that 52 Gambians died in the incident, while 80 survived.

It added that the Gambian government will “dispatch a delegation to Mauritania at the earliest possible time to investigate and gather more information on the accident.’’

In a separate incident, a coastguard official reported that a boat with around 150 migrants seeking to reach Spain was on Friday intercepted north of the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott.

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“The boat set off days ago from Gambia carrying 150 migrants including children and women.

“They are in good health,’’ the official added without details.

Despite its population of less than 2 million people, Gambia is among the African countries with the highest number of people leaving the continent in search of a better life in Europe.

However, when former president Yahya Jammeh was forced to cede power in January 2017 after ruling for more than two decades, some Gambians started to voluntarily return to their homes.



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