At Least 24 Migrants Dead in Shipwreck Off Senegal’s Coast

Thu Feb 29 2024
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SAINT LOUIS: At least 24 people seeking to reach Europe drowned off northern Senegal when their loaded ship sank, the governor of the Saint Louis region told AFP on Thursday.

Governor Alioune Badara Samb of the Saint Louis region confirmed the grim toll, revealing that the incident occurred in a perilous section of the Saint Louis estuary, where the Senegal River converges with the Atlantic Ocean, infamous for its strong currents and treacherous conditions.

Governor Samb disclosed that the bodies of 24 victims have been recovered since Wednesday, while 21 others were fortunate enough to be rescued. The vessel, believed to have been carrying more than 300 passengers according to eyewitness accounts, encountered distress in the turbulent waters, leaving many unaccounted for.

Senegal, Coast, Saint Louis, Europe, Morocco, President, Atlantic Ocean, Vessel, European Union

Survivors recounted harrowing tales of the journey, with Mamady Dianfo, hailing from Casamance in the south, asserting that over 300 people were aboard the ill-fated boat when it departed Senegal a week prior. Another survivor, Alpha Balde, estimated the passenger count to exceed 200 persons.

Reports indicate that the vessel initially reached Morocco, but complications arose when the captain purportedly lost direction, rendering them unable to continue the voyage. Desperate pleas to return to Senegal were allegedly met with refusal, leading to a tragic turn of events.

Senegal, Coast, Saint Louis, Europe, Morocco, President, Atlantic Ocean, Vessel, European Union

Senegal Extends Aid to Affectees

In response to the catastrophe, President Macky Sall conveyed his profound sorrow, acknowledging the “tragic capsizing” in a statement issued via social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. President Sall assured that relevant authorities had been mobilized to extend support and aid to those affected by the disaster.

Senegal’s coastline has emerged as a common departure point for migrants seeking refuge from poverty and unemployment, embarking on perilous journeys towards the Canary Islands, their gateway to Europe. According to the European Union border agency Frontex, Senegal and Morocco stand out as primary countries of origin for migrants undertaking the treacherous Atlantic passage.

Last year, over 6,600 migrants perished or went missing attempting to reach Spain, with the vast majority succumbing to the hazards of the Atlantic route, as reported by Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras.

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