SAINT LOUIS: At least 24 people seeking to reach Europe drowned off northern Senegal when their loaded vessel sank, the governor of the Saint Louis region said on Thursday.

Governor Alioune Badara Samb said 24 bodies had been found since Wednesday when the boat got into difficulty in a particularly dangerous part of the northern coast. He added that 21 people had been rescued.

The Saint Louis estuary, where the Senegal River meets the Atlantic Ocean, is notorious for strong currents and areas of thick mud. Samb did not say how many people were missing from the vessel, which witnesses said could have been carrying more than 300 people.

A number of survivors managed to reach shore and dispersed among locals on the sea banks, making it difficult to say exactly how many people were involved, he said.

Mamady Dianfo, a survivor from Casamance in the south, said more than 300 people were on board when the boat left Senegal a week ago. Another survivor, Alpha Balde, estimated there were more than 200 passengers.

Dianfo said the vessel reached Morocco, further north up the coast but the captain then said he was lost and could no longer continue the journey. “We asked him to take us back to Senegal,” he said.

President Macky Sall expressed his “deep sadness” following the “tragic capsizing” in a message on X, formerly Twitter. He added that the relevant authorities had been deployed to offer support and assistance.

Senegal’s coast is an increasingly common departure point for Africans fleeing poverty and unemployment and heading to the Canary Islands, their port of entry into Europe. European Union border agency Frontex says Senegal and Morocco are the most common countries of origin for migrants arriving on the Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

By-election trends
Updated 23 Apr, 2024

By-election trends

Unless the culture of violence and rigging is rooted out, the credibility of the electoral process in Pakistan will continue to remain under a cloud.
Privatising PIA
23 Apr, 2024

Privatising PIA

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb’s reaffirmation that the process of disinvestment of the loss-making national...
Suffering in captivity
23 Apr, 2024

Suffering in captivity

YET another animal — a lioness — is critically ill at the Karachi Zoo. The feline, emaciated and barely able to...
Not without reform
Updated 22 Apr, 2024

Not without reform

The problem with us is that our ruling elite is still trying to find a way around the tough reforms that will hit their privileges.
Raisi’s visit
22 Apr, 2024

Raisi’s visit

IRANIAN President Ebrahim Raisi, who begins his three-day trip to Pakistan today, will be visiting the country ...
Janus-faced
22 Apr, 2024

Janus-faced

THE US has done it again. While officially insisting it is committed to a peaceful resolution to the...