At least 140 migrants have drowned off the coast of Senegal in the deadliest shipwreck recorded by the United Nations this year.
The boat caught fire and capsized hours after leaving the town of Mbour, about 62 miles south of the capital Dakar, for the Canary Islands on Saturday, the UN’s migration agency said.
“At least 140 people have drowned after a vessel carrying around 200 migrants sank off the Senegalese coast, the deadliest shipwreck recorded in 2020,” the International Organization for Migration said in a statement.
Roughly 60 people were rescued by the Senegalese and Spanish navies, as well as fisherman.
The perilous sea passage from West Africa to the Canary Islands was once a major route for those seeking an escape from poverty, and has seen a surge this year.
Spain had stepped up patrols to stop people attempting the journey, but migrant arrivals to the Canary Islands from West Africa have more than quadrupled in 2020 to around 11,000 compared with the same period last year.
Fourteen boats carrying 663 migrants left Senegal for the islands in September, the IOM said, over a quarter of which experienced an incident or shipwreck.
And in August, Spanish authorities found a boat near the Canary Islands with 10 dead migrants on board.
Last December, sunbathers stepped in to help some two dozen migrants who washed up on a beach in the islands, including three children and a pregnant woman.
Their rickety boat landed on the shores of Aguila in Gran Canaria, with those on-board having spent six days navigating the rough waters of the Atlantic.
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