More than 60 migrants feared dead at sea off Cape Verde coast

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Survivors were helped ashore in Cape Verde
By Suzanne Leigh
BBC News

More than 60 people are feared dead after a boat carrying migrants was found off Cape Verde in West Africa.

Thirty-eight people were rescued, including children aged 12 to 16, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

An estimated 100 people, mostly from Senegal and Sierra Leone, were said to have been on board the boat and had been at sea for a month.

It is not immediately clear when the incident occurred.

The vessel was first spotted on Monday, police told the AFP news agency. Initial reports suggested the boat sank, but it was later clarified that the boat was found drifting.

The wooden pirogue style boat was seen almost 320km (200 miles) off the island of Sal by a Spanish fishing boat, which alerted authorities, police said.

Senegal’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued late on Tuesday that the boat had left Senegal on 10 July with 101 passengers on board.

The ministry said it was liaising with authorities in Cape Verde for the repatriation of survivors, one of whom was from Guinea-Bissau.

Cape Verde is around 600km off the coast of West Africa on a maritime migration route to the Spanish Canary Islands, often used as a gateway to the European Union.

IOM spokeswoman Safa Msehli said: “Safe and regular pathways to migration are sorely lacking, which is what gives room to smugglers and traffickers to put people on these deadly journeys.”

At least 559 people died trying to reach the Canary Islands in 2022, according to figures from the IOM, while 126 people died or went missing on the same route in the first six months of this year with 15 shipwrecks recorded.

At least 15 people drowned when a boat carrying migrants capsized off the coast of the Senegalese capital Dakar in late July.

The group were said to have been in a boat similar to this one, involved in an incident in July in which 15 migrants drowned

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