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140 drown after ship sank off Senegal

Updated: 2020-10-31 11:58

DAKAR, Senegal-A migrant shipwreck off Senegal has left at least 140 people dead, making it the deadliest so far this year, the International Organization for Migration confirmed on Thursday.

About 200 passengers set off in the vessel from the Senegalese town of Mbour on Oct 24, bound for Spain's Canary Islands.

But the boat soon caught fire and sank off Senegal's northwestern coast near Saint Louis. Fifty-nine passengers were saved, the IOM said.

The Senegalese government on Monday said the fire had begun among fuel drums.

The shipwreck comes as the number of boats trying to reach Spain's Canary Islands from Senegal's shores has "significantly increased in recent weeks," the United Nations' migration agency said, adding it was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy.

Last month, 14 boats attempted the voyage, and about one-quarter "were reported to have experienced an incident or shipwreck", the IOM said.

Senegal's shores were once a major departure point for those hoping to migrate to Europe.

The Canary Islands lie more than 100 kilometers from the coast of Africa at its closest point, and the passage is typically made in traditional wooden boats that are usually crammed.

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