Dakar, July 25 (BNA): At least 17 people were killed after a boat capsized in the Senegalese capital, local officials said today.
Ndi Top Gaye, deputy mayor of the Ouakame district in Dakar where the bodies were found, said the navy found the bodies early in the morning and believed they were migrants because of the type of boat they were in.
“Because of the size and shape, we know it’s a kayak (a long wooden canoe),” she said.
According to the Associated Press (AP), while this is the first time bodies have been washed up in the neighborhood, migrant deaths at sea are becoming more common in Senegal, she said.
“It’s not the first time, it’s the thousandth time. The government needs to take countermeasures.”
It was not clear where these people came from, their nationalities, or where they were going. But the transatlantic migration route is one of the deadliest in the world, with nearly 800 people dead or missing in the first half of 2023, according to the Spanish organization Walking Borders.
In recent years, the Canary Islands have become one of the main destinations for people trying to reach Spain, with more than 23,000 migrants arriving in 2020, according to Spain’s Interior Ministry.
The boats travel mainly from Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania, and to a lesser extent from Senegal. However, locals and officials say there has been a significant increase in the number of boats leaving Senegal this year.
Factors such as a faltering economy, lack of jobs, extremist violence, political unrest, and the impact of climate change lead migrants to risk their lives on overcrowded boats to reach the Canaries. Last month in Senegal, at least 23 people were killed during weeks of protests between opposition supporters and the police.
On the beach where the bodies were found, Associated Press reporters saw rescue workers and volunteers work together to pull the capsized boat ashore. The deceased’s clothes were washed side-by-side and placed in a pile while the authorities coordinated the response.
Monday’s tragedy is the latest in a string of boats and bodies rescued along the coast of Senegal.
Earlier this month, eight migrants were found dead after a boat capsized off the coast of northern Senegal while trying to reach Europe, and seven were found dead and 50 rescued on another ship discovered off the coast of the northern town of Saint Louis. It is feared that at least 90 people are missing from that boat.
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