Harare — At least 63 people are believed to have died when the boat they were travelling on from Senegal was discovered off Cabo Verde, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The wooden fishing boat, according to The Guardian, was reportedly sighted August 14 in the Atlantic Ocean near west Africa, some 150 nautical miles (277 kilometers) from the island of Sal. The ship was discovered drifting, as opposed to the initial reports that said it sunk. Spanish fishermen found the ship and notified officials of its location.
Although the exact time of the tragedy was not immediately known, survivors said that the boat left Senegal on July 10 with roughly 100 people on board. According to the IOM spokeswoman, AFP, emergency personnel have found seven people’s remains, while another 56 individuals are thought to be missing.
The Atlantic migration route from West Africa to the Canary Islands, which is commonly used to reach mainland Spain, is one of the most dangerous in the world.
“Safe and regular pathways to migration are sorely lacking, which is what gives room to smugglers and traffickers to put people on these deadly journeys,” the IOM said.
According to IOM, at least 126 people died or went missing while trying to reach the Canary Islands in the first half of this year, with 15 shipwrecks being reported, compared to at least 559 people who perished trying to do so in 2022. Another 15 people perished in the water in July when a boat capsized off the coast of Dakar, the city of Senegal.
By the end of August 2021, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project recorded 785 people, including 177 women and 50 children who had died or disappeared so far this year while heading for the Canaries. With 379 deaths registered in August alone, it was the bloodiest month of 2021 with over half of all deaths reported that year.